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July 4 DWI crackdown starts with 14 arrests

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police launched their portion of the Carolinas' July 4th crackdown on drunk driving with 14 arrests overnight at a DWI checkpoint in east Charlotte.

CMPD says it will conduct additional checkpoints this weekend, as part of North Carolina's Booze It and Lose It campaign.

Police in several cities across the Carolinas had similar checkpoints overnight. The South Carolina Highway Patrol also has a DWI campaign under way this weekend.

About 2,000 motorists were arrested on DWI charges last Independence Day weekend, and police expect more of the same this year.

The overnight checkpoint, conducted from 11 p.m. Friday until 3 a.m. today, was on Eastway Drive near Peace Street. CMPD had help from UNC Charlotte police and the Mint Hill police. Authorities report these results:

-- 10 DWI arrests of drivers 21 or older

-- 2 DWI arrests of drivers under the age of 21

-- 1 DWI charge of aiding and abetting

-- 17 driving with a revoked license charges

-- 73 citations for driving with no license

-- 5 citations for violations of the open container law

-- 6 drug citations

-- 2 citations for possession of alcohol by an under-age person

The DWI crackdown comes on a holiday weekend in which about 1.5 million Carolinas residents will be traveling 50 or more miles from home, according to the AAA.

AAA Carolinas says Fourth of July motor vehicle travel will be three percent higher than last July 4, with 485,000 South Carolina residents and 1 million from North Carolina traveling 50 miles or more.

And, says the AAA, most of the travelers are hitting the road. Less than 4 percent of those going more than 50 miles from home this weekend are flying. For most, gasoline prices and road conditions will be more important than airport check-in lines.

Here's what to expect this weekend:

GAS PRICES

North Carolina's fuel tax increased 2.5 cents Friday, but prices are still about 25 cents lower than during the Memorial Day weekend. According to AAA Carolinas, motorists will pay an average of $3.55 a gallon in Charlotte and a bit less in the mountains and at the beaches.

With a much lower fuel tax, South Carolina's gas prices are among the lowest in the nation. The state average of $3.29 a gallon compares to $3.54 nationally.

FLYING?

About 70,000 Carolinas residents are expected to travel by air this July 4 weekend. That's up 19 percent in North Carolina and 17 percent in South Carolina from last Independence Day. That is despite an 11 percent increase in average air fares over the past year.

HOTELS

High occupancy rates are being reported up and down the Carolinas coast, and in the popular mountain areas. Hotel prices are up 13 percent over a year ago, but hotel bookings have increased 12 percent over last July 4 weekend.

WEATHER

Today should be dry across the Carolinas, with hot temperatures and humidity levels that are higher than Friday's. Sunday is forecast to be hot and humid, with a few thunderstorms in the mountains, possibly spilling into the foothills and Piedmont. More of the same is expected Monday. Daytime highs will range from the low 80s in Boone to the upper 90s in Charlotte and the Piedmont. Look for upper 80s along the beaches, with a possible risk of rip tides today.

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