BATMobiles: North Carolina’s Mobile Anti-DWI Unit

North Carolina’s approach in keeping drunk drivers off the road is rather unique. Instead of the police going to the lab to submit samples, the lab goes to the police.

The Forensic Tests for Alcohol of the state Division of Public Health operates a fleet of 32-foot buses called Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile Units, simply called BATMobiles. These are former school buses refurbished and redesigned to carry BAT equipment for on-site processing of impaired drivers. If the breathalyzer doesn’t help much, the BATMobiles step in.Kurtz Blum, PLLC | Raleigh Criminal Lawyers

You can’t miss these buses, especially during holidays. They man some checkpoints, sporting one of three slogans: “Booze It & Lose It,” “Don’t Drink & Drive,” and “0.08 It’s The Law.” They usually operate in rural areas where labs are too far. This helps deter drunk drivers because many of them don’t expect checkpoints in these areas.

BATMobiles also act as mobile police stations, carrying the necessary paperwork to process violators on the spot. The buses have a magistrate’s work area, making the bus a mobile command center. Magistrates are personnel that approve the setup of checkpoints in select areas and the number of personnel to man these checkpoints.

As of 2014, the state operates seven BAT Mobiles; too few to cover the entire state, but very effective in nabbing DWI and non-DWI violators. When they’re not busy keeping drunk drivers off the road, they travel as educational caravans teaching kids about the dangers of DWI.


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