Beginning Friday law enforcement agencies throughout the state will be cracking down on intoxicated drivers as part of Sober of Slammer.
Representatives from nearly 20 agencies gathered for a kickoff event at Greenwood fire station no. 1 for the annual crackdown on intoxicated drivers. According to Capt. Billy Yongue, commander for Troop Two of the S.C. Highway Patrol, intoxicated drivers are on the roads throughout the day.
“I think many people have a misconception that people only get drunk at night,” Yongue said. “We stop drunk drivers at 7 a.m., noon and midnight. We stop drunk drivers in neighborhoods while children are being taken to school and we stop drunk drivers on the interstate going 90 m.p.h.”
Yongue said that over 27,000 impaired drivers were arrested throughout the state in 2012. In addition, 358 lives were taken by drunk drivers in 2012. Yongue also noted that South Carolina currently has 104 fewer fatalities in 2013 than at the same time in 2012.
Chief Terry Strange of the Greenwood Fire Department said there had been more than 800 motor vehicle accidents in the City of Greenwood during the last three and a half years. Strange noted many of those accidents were alcohol related and created nearly 2,000 patients at local hospitals.
“We call them accidents, but I don’t call them accidents,” Strange said. “People make a conscious decision to drink and get out there and drive. Please, if you are going to make that decision, get a designated driver. Put us out of business.”
Yongue said that the S.C. Department of Public Safety has a goal of zero fatalities as a result of motor vehicle accidents. In order to achieve that goal, Yongue said, it takes a partnership between law enforcement agencies, first responders, local businesses and members of the community.
Lowrie Wilson, managing partner of Chili’s in Greenwood, agreed with Yongue’s assessment and asserted that his restaurant would be doing their part to help reduce vehicle fatalities.
“I challenge all the restaurants and bars in town to make sure they are making conscious decisions to not let our community make bad decisions by getting in a car while under the influence of alcohol,” Wilson said. “At Chili’s, we would much rather lose the sale of another beer or glass in order to get somebody home safe.”
The agencies present at the kickoff event were South Carolina Highway Patrol, Laurens Police Department, Saluda County Sheriff’s Office, Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office, Greenwood Police Department, Greenwood Fire Department, State Transport Police, Greenwood County EMS, McCormick County Sheriff’s Office, McCormick Police Department, Newberry Police Department, Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, Greenwood E911 Dispatch, Calhoun Falls Police Department, Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, Abbeville Police Department, Clinton Public Safety, Lander University Police Department and the Greenwood County Coroner’s Office.