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'Sober Or Slammer' Kicks Off Today

Highway Patrol to step up presence on state roads, push public education efforts about drunk driving.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety starts off its 'Sober or Slammer'  program Friday, which will last through Labor Day, Sept. 4. The program will step up law enforcement presence through state and local agencies on South Carolina roads to prevent drunk driving. 

 “Nearly half of South Carolina’s fatalities each year continue to be DUI-related. That is why we are enlisting the public to help be our eyes on the highways and combat this problem by calling *HP if they suspect an impaired driver,” said Leroy Smith, director for the SCDPS. “In 2011, South Carolina law enforcement officers made 28,466 DUI arrests. We can only imagine the number of lives saved and injuries averted due to many of those arrests.”

Department of Public Safety is using alternative routes this year to get the message out about drunk driving. Motorists will be seeing the faces of real South Carolina DUI victims on box trucks, gas pump handles, billboards and convenience store windows urging motorists to call *HP (*47 ) if they see someone they suspect is driving drunk.

One example of the "in your face" advertising will be a photograph of Kia Waters, who was killed in 2007. 

“It is extremely important to me and my family to stay involved with the 'Sober or Slammer' campaign to help prevent others from having to experience the grief that we had to go through,” said Jim Waters, Kia's father.  “Kia was, without a doubt, an angel on Earth put here to touch the hearts and lives of others.  Even though she is no longer with us physically, she is still with us by touching the hearts of all who see her beautiful picture on the side of the trucks and gas pumps.”

For the third year, SCDPS will air a two-part TV commercial that depicts the consequences of driving impaired. The two 60-second spots, created by Fisher Communications, are the latest in the “DUI” series.

The new installment involves a DUI resulting in death – a fact that occurs on average once a day in South Carolina, according to the SCPDS. Nationally, one person dies about every 50 minutes due to DUI. In 2010, more than 10,000 people nationwide died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes – one every 51 minutes. Alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes cost an estimated $37 billion annually nationwide.

The Sober or Slammer campaign will be bolstered by partnerships with bordering states and a national focus on DUI including Hands Across the Border - a series of multi-state highway safety awareness events during the week leading up to Labor Day. South Carolina law enforcement agencies will join state and local agencies from North Carolina and Georgia to conduct public safety checkpoints and awareness events. The South Carolina Highway Patrol will also be stationing troopers every 10 miles on interstates during periods of travel on the Labor Day weekend.

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