DA: DWI prosecution a "top priority"

District 25 Attorney James C. Gaither Jr. said his office is "highly efficient" when it comes to prosecuting intoxicated drivers.

"The prosecution of drunk drivers remains a top priority for the district attorney's office.

We have well-trained professional law enforcement in Catawba County, and when they arrest drunk drivers, my office does everything we can to prosecute those cases to the fullest extent of the law," Gaither told The O-N-E this week. "I feel that we are backing up law enforcement fairly aggressively, and we have a policy where we don't reduce cases and we don't dismiss charges based on anything other than legal necessity."

Gaither also said this week that he'll "absolutely" seek another term as district attorney, in part to keep streets safe for his own family.

"I want my children to be safe as they come and go from activities in which they are involved," he said, adding he has a child in college and another in high school, as well as other family roots deep in the Hickory Metro. "If there is anyone with more at stake in the safety of Catawba County, I would like to know who they are."

According to information provided by the Administrative Office of Courts and Gaither's office, Catawba County prosecutors earned a conviction in 85 percent of driving while intoxicated cases during the 2011-12 fiscal year. Out of 651 DWI charges filed in the fiscal year that ended June 30, there were 514 convictions, 65 dismissals and two cases that were reduced to less charges.

To read more of this story, pick up the weekend print edition of Catawba County's community newspaper, The Observer News Enterprise, at newsstands throughout the county.