Sober or Slammer campaign kicks off in South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety joined local law enforcement around the state Wednesday for the beginning of an impaired driving crackdown that will include both a strong enforcement component, television commercials and alternative advertising such as DUI messages on ice boxes and box trucks.

The campaign will run through the end of Labor Day weekend.

In the weeks prior to Labor Day, state and local law enforcement agencies will intensify their efforts to crack down on drunk driving and reduce DUI-related traffic deaths in South Carolina.

"From 2007-2011, we experienced a 32 percent reduction in alcohol-impaired fatalities -- from 464 to 315," said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith.

"Achieving this takes all of us working together in terms of enforcement, education, communications, financial resources, information technology, and human resources. Impaired driving remains one of the greatest challenges we face in the law enforcement community."

There have been 164 highway deaths since Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off what law enforcement calls the 100 Deadly Days of Summer on our roadways.

Last year, there were 176 deaths at the same time through August 12.

Overall highway deaths have fallen this year compared to 2012. There have been 432 compared to 516 last year at this time.

SC Highway Patrol Col. Mike Oliver said his troopers see the deadly consequences of the decision to drive impaired every day.

"We want motorists to understand that if they drink and drive, the threat of getting caught is very real," said Col. Mike Oliver, Commander of the SC Highway Patrol. "That's why we will saturate the state with enforcement as well as visual reminders of the consequences of getting behind the wheel after drinking."

Last year, officers in South Carolina, including troopers, made more than 27,000 DUI arrests.

SC Highway Patrol urges motorists to call *HP or *47 if they see someone they suspect is driving impaired. Signs can include: driving too fast or too slowly; driving erratically, weaving in and out of lanes; crossing the center line or briefly drifting off the roadway.

SCDPS' Sober or Slammer! campaign is part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown coordinated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The national effort includes state and local law enforcement agencies across the country.

The campaign combines high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity.