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City of Wilmington hopes to step up DUI enforcement

Downtown Wilmington is home to many popular bars. Over the past few years, customers at those bars have noticed increased police presence around closing time. Now, the Wilmington Police Department says they hope to add even more patrols to the area.

For the many college students and other bar patrons, closing time means figuring out a way to get home. Some choose to hitch a ride with sober friends. Others call cabs. Still others may walk if they live close. But police officers say that many are choosing to drive drunk. Officials with the police department say that increased DUI enforcement is necessary.

City records indicate that DUI accidents have the highest rates near downtown Wilmington around the time that bars close. Currently, five Wilmington police officers patrol downtown's business district looking for people to arrest on DUI charges. Now, city governmental officials want to increase that number to 10 officers. To do so would cost the city roughly $300,000. It could also cause more hassle for the patrons of local bars.

For now, the DUI enforcement around downtown will remain the same. However, it could double shortly, and individuals who frequent area bars should know that officers are targeting drunk drivers. As the police department assigns more officers to patrol downtown around bar closing time, we will likely see more DUI arrests.

Accusations of drunk driving can have serious consequences. Even if a person is not convicted, the charge itself can lead to driver's license suspension or revocation. A DUI conviction can have even harsher penalties.

Source: WECT, Wilmington and NHC leaders agree to crank up patrol units downtown, Lindsay Curtin, 04 May, 2011

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