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South Carolina aims to curb DUI deaths

To ring in the summer vacation season, authorities in South Carolina have begun a campaign to stress the dangers of drinking and driving and stop DUI-related deaths.

Already this year, more than 300 people have died in the state in car accidents, many of them involving drunk driving, according to police. So the South Carolina Highway Patrol is banking on its 100 Deadly Days of Summer campaign, aiming to prevent as many fatal accidents as possible from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the time when most of the fatalities occur.

To do so, the highway patrol will increase put more officers on the street and intends to make more DUI-related arrests. According to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 43 percent of the traffic fatalities in the state in 2010 included a driver who registered a blood-alcohol content level of 0.08 or greater. That put South Carolina in the top three in the nation in that statistic.

In the coastal South Carolina county of Horry, which includes the tourist destination Myrtle Beach, officers there said that every day they are on the lookout for drunk drivers, trying to get them off the road. No matter what time of day, one officer said the highway patrol can find a driver who could be considered drunk.

Horry County had the most DUI-related deaths in the state with 28 in 2009, then saw another 23 in 2010 -- the second-most in the state. They attribute the high number to the amount of vacationers in the county, as well as the permanent residents. Sometimes, one officer said, poor, deadly decisions result in such individuals having fun that is irresponsible.

The state highway patrol's efforts to reduce DUI-related fatalities is admirable, however some drivers who are not actually drunk could be wrongly pulled over.

Source: WMBF, "DUIs major threat in 100 Deadly Days of Summer," May 23, 2012

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