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On Tuesday the Roanoke Rapids Police Department made its 35th DWI arrest shortly before 1:45 a.m.

The number of those arrested for DWI thus far in 2024 is three shy of the total number of 38 made last year, Chief Shane Guyant said.

This time last year the police department had made 14 DWI arrests.

As far as a prediction at the end of the year, the chief said, “We hope the number decreases for public safety’s sake. However, at this rate the number could be around 70 or more.  We really hope that it isn't.”

The department has applied for a traffic grant through the North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program. “We should know more about this before the next city council meeting,” he said, explaining, “This funding would be for a full-time traffic enforcement officer.”

As it currently stands Guyant said that the department is proud “that we have 24 officers certified in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing and seven officers certified in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement. We hope to send an officer to Drug Recognition Expert certification in 2024.”

Numbers aside, Guyant said, “More than anything we just want people to stop driving while impaired.  We cannot stress enough that we are going to catch violators and hope that the courts do their part. We can only control what is within our bailiwick.”

The 35th DWI occurred as Officer B. Johnson was stationary on the side of Highway 48 near Vepco Street. 

Johnson observed a vehicle traveling south from behind him coming from Gaston.  

Guyant said the vehicle passed at a speed that Johnson determined from his experience was over the posted speed limit.   

He pulled onto the roadway in an attempt to catch up to the vehicle driven by a person later identified as Shaniqua Trasha Jefferson, 33, of Rocky Mount.  

There was a lengthy distance between Johnson and the vehicle. He caught up to Jefferson around Third Street and Roanoke Avenue and observed the vehicle cross the centerline three times before Jefferson stopped at Fifth Street and the avenue.

In his encounter with Jefferson, Johnson observed she had red, glassy and bloodshot eyes and noticed the odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle.

Asked by Johnson whether she had had anything to drink, Guyant said the woman replied “not too much.”

Asked by Johnson whether she would consent to Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, Guyant said she told the officer, “I’m not doing any test.”

Guyant said even without the SFST Johnson determined Jefferson was impaired due to her speech and her diminished faculties. 

Jefferson was transported to the police department and was requested to provide a breath sample on an Intoxilyzer instrument. Jefferson provided a positive breath sample of .13, nearly twice the state’s legal limit.

She was charged with DWI, driving left of center and speeding.

She was released to a responsible party and given a July 26 district court date.