HAMPTON, N.H. (CBS) – The number of drunk driving incidents in Hampton, New Hampshire has skyrocketed and police say businesses that over-serve customers are to blame.
According to Police Chief Richard Sawyer’s quarterly report, there have been 120 DWIs in 2019. That’s up from 66 over the same time period last year.
“DWIs are up 82%,” he told the Hampton Board of Selectmen this week. “That’s just unacceptable by any measurement.”
The eye-catching statistic had one selectman asking, are people being over-served?
“Absolutely, there’s no other way to put it,” Sawyer said. “I try to work well with the business community and we’ve tried to warn them.”
Drunk driving numbers have steadily been going up over the past five years, Sawyer said. The department has reached out to State Police for help, and those visiting the popular Hampton Beach area can expect to see stepped-up enforcement.
“We’re going to have Hampton officers, state troopers and whoever else I can get to help us. . . roving the streets of Hampton and Hampton Beach looking for folks that are impaired,” he said.
Sawyer said law enforcement in neighboring communities report that the people they’re stopping for DWIs are coming from Hampton Beach.
“We are very fortunate this year that we have not had a fatality in Hampton,” he said. “But I think that’s just luck.”
The chief’s comments are concerning to some bar owners who are worried about the impact on the tourist season that’s just now heating up after a rainy spring.
“A public statement by the chief can’t really help tourism, I don’t think,” Al Fleury, who owns Bernie’s Beach Bar, Wally’s Pub and the Goat, told SeacoastOnline.com “I was so disheartened to hear him say that.”