Nearly one of every five motorists arrested last year in North Carolina for driving while impaired was Hispanic, reports the Charlotte Observer. Police and Hispanic leaders are troubled by the numbers, which have more than tripled in seven years and far exceed the percentage of Latinos in the state. Hispanic leaders say too many Latinos, most of them male, are drinking and driving because they don’t fully understand the law or the danger.
Last year, 12,039 Hispanics were charged with DWI–19 percent of the 62,000 arrests statewide. Hispanics make up an estimated 6 percent of the state’s population. “That’s a tremendous shock,” said Angeles Ortega-Moore of the Latin American Coalition in Charlotte. “There’s too much drinking and driving going on. Hispanic leaders say many who drink and drive are young, single men whose families are still in Latin America. Some feel isolated and turn to alcohol partly because of a lack of social activities.