Sober or Slammer Campaign Catches More DUIs During Holiday Season
During many holiday seasons, South Carolina launches the Sober or Slammer program –placing increased police officer attention on monitoring traffic to catch drunk drivers to help prevent DUI accidents. The program catches more drunk drivers, according to law enforcement officials, but the holidays often encourage people to drink and drive.
“People are home from the holiday,” Charles Smith, who in on Mt. Pleasant’s traffic unit said. “They’re with their families. They’re off work. They drink more and then drive, so we have to be on kind of a heightened awareness.”
According to annual statistics, about 40% of fatal car accidents in South Carolina are caused by DUI. Law enforcement has already arrested about 27,000 people in the state on DUI charges – DUI arrests only for alcohol, and which do not include driving while under the influence of drugs, such as driving while high on marijuana or prescription drugs.
“It’s pretty common, and it’s become more common lately just because of how easy it is to get prescription medication,” Smith said. “My drunk driving versus drug driving arrests have been about 60-40.”
He says that law enforcement, especially as part of the Sober or Slammer campaign, are trained to look for specific signs of DUI in the vehicle when a driver is turned over.
“Can I smell anything in the car? Stopping for green lights,” Smith said. “Do they hand me their credit card versus their driver’s license? I had one specifically, that made a left turn into a shopping center and they didn’t use the entrance. They just drove right over the sidewalk.”
Smith and other law enforcement officers encourage South Carolinians not to commit DUI – if you are at a holiday gathering, call a cab or have a designated driver instead.
“If you have to ask yourself, ‘Am I ok to drive’, then ‘No you’re not ok to drive’,” Smith said. “You’re out spending $50, $100, $200 at the bar, spend an extra $20 or $30 on a cab.”
The Sober or Slammer campaign ramped up beginning the week before Christmas, and will step up again as New Years celebrations approach. Champagne and parties are a huge part of New Years Eve, so there will be more drunk drivers on the road than any other time of year.
“The public always thinks the new year is kind of a beginning. It’s a clean slate, so to speak. New Year’s, ‘first I’m going to have a resolution and forget the past.’ Well, there’s family members who aren’t going to forget the past because they’ve lost loved ones, and that’s what we want to stop,” Sgt. Bob Beres with the Highway Patrol says. “We’ve lost hundreds of people here in South Carolina this year.”
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