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DWI calls up in Carthage - KOAM TV 7

DWI calls up in Carthage

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The Missouri Department of Transportation will cover overtime costs for Carthage police officers to host a DWI check point this week.

DWI calls in Carthage continue to be on the rise over the past few years.  Thanks to a partnership with MODOT and the Southwest Missouri DWI Task Force they plan to continue the crack down and keep Carthage streets safe.

The back of a police car is the last place most of us hope to end up, but according to the Carthage Police Department since the start of 2013 they've received 60 calls for DWI's.  That puts police on pace to easily surpass the 85 calls they received in all of 2012.

"It could be public awareness, where we're doing something like this and people see that on the news and think 'that's a good thing to do, I should call the police,'" says Lt. Bill Barksdale of the Carthage Police Department.

Police say it's not just public awareness that is creating the increase, but a grant funding DWI checkpoints as part of an Arrive Alive campaign with MODOT, and Southwest Missouri DWI Task Force helps as well.  They do monthly check points across Southwest Missouri and this month it's Carthage's turn.

"Checkpoints are a great way - who the impaired driver is at that particular intersection at that particular time, we usually use them between 9 and 2, which is high hours for those who are impaired driving," says Lt. Barksdale.

Despite the increase, Lt. Barksdale says police are also seeing more designated drivers than in years past.  But when that fails one area bar says it's happy to do its part.

"I have taken people's keys away and they've come back the next day and they thank me," says Ronda Fisher, a bartender at Jim's in Carthage.  "They were mad at the time, but then they came back the next day and realize I was right and they thank me for doing that."

Fisher says lately she has taken fewer keys as more of her patrons seem willing to drive with a friend or call a cab, which is something Carthage police hope more of its drivers keep in mind.

Carthage police stress the importance of citizen's calling in to report drunk drivers.

Lt. Barksdale says those in a town or city should call 911 while those on the Interstate should call *55.

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