FORT MILL — Getting into the holiday spirit, for some, can mean getting into spirits of a different kind, and then making the poor decision to get behind the wheel, said York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant.
Enter “Sober or Slammer,” South Carolina’s annual increased enforcement against drivers under the influence. On Dec. 10, representatives from state and local law enforcement agencies gathered at the Flint Hill Fire Department to announce that efforts began Friday.
“Starting tomorrow, law enforcement agencies statewide will begin ramping up enforcement efforts to remove drunk drivers from our roadways during the holiday season,” said Capt. B.J. Albert of the state Highway Patrol.
In 2012 in South Carolina, 27,000 drunken drivers were arrested, Albert said. More than 350 people were killed either because they were driving drunk or because they or their vehicles were hit by a drunken driver.
The increased enforcement will include additional patrols and checkpoints, Bryant said. “It’s a joint effort among all law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Two officers with the Clover Police Department said people can recognize impaired drivers by their behavior.
Impaired drivers will often fail to maintain their lane position, roll through stop signs or stop far short of the actual line, make wide turns or show other odd behavior, Sgt. William Miller said. If someone spots a driver behaving this way, he or she can dial *HP in South Carolina, 911, or the local police department, Miller said.
The amount of alcohol it takes for someone to be too impaired to drive varies, said Cpl. W.E. Stiles of Clover. A person’s age, weight, metabolism and other factors can contribute to level of impairment.
If a driver who is impaired is caught, there will be consequences, Miller said.
“There’s zero tolerance,” Stiles said. “They will go to jail.”
In York County this year, 201 people have been arrested by the sheriff’s office for driving under the influence. In 2012, 202 people were arrested all year.
So far this year, there have been 20 traffic fatalities in York County, compared to 24 at this time in 2012, although not all of those are related to driving under the influence.
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072