CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina State and local law enforcement agencies kicked off their annual “Sober or Slammer” campaign on Wednesday.
It’s a collaborative effort between South Carolina Highway Patrol, State Transport Police, and local law enforcement agencies to get drunk drivers off the road during the holidays and reduce fatalities.
Officials said drivers can expect to see more patrol vehicles and public safety checkpoints between Wednesday and January 1st.
As of Wednesday, 1,049 people died in vehicle crashes in South Carolina this year.
“One highway fatality is affecting many, many, many people. That number being 1,049 deaths, you’re talking about thousands and thousands of people that are affected as a result of one highway fatality,” said Lt. Col. Travis Manley with Highway Patrol.
Nationwide, vehicle crash deaths are on the rise.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first half of 2021. That is up 18.4% over 2020. In the southeast region, fatalities were up 22%.
Lt. Col. Manley said this is due in part because more people are on the road now, especially following the pandemic.
State officials said in 2020, 30% of fatalities were caused by impaired driving.
Officers remind drivers to have a plan to get home safely when going out to celebrate this season.
“We’re seeing more Christmas parties coming back now, as we’re coming out of the pandemic,” said Captain Pat Carter with the Mount Pleasant Police Department. “Use that rideshare, use a friend, whatever it is.
Law enforcement officials said if a motorist is charged with driving under the influence, that offense could be used against them for up to 10 years.