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Campaign to curb DUI begins in South Carolina

Officials in South Carolina are asking for the public's help in their end-of-summer crackdown on drunk driving.

Statistics state that 70 percent of South Carolina's DUI-related traffic deaths involve at least one driver who was a blood-alcohol level that is nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent. With that knowledge, officials said they want the public to call police if they see a driver whom they believe is impaired.

The director of the state Department of Public Safety asked for the public to "be our eyes on the highways" and call *HP if they encounter a suspected drunk driver. Each year, half of the fatal accidents in the state are related to drinking and driving, he said.

Last year, officers arrested more than 28,000 drivers on DUI charges, he said, adding that saved untold lives and injuries by taking impaired drivers off the road. While officers were diligent, there never is enough manpower, he said, necessitating the public's help.

The request came at the announcement of the "Sober of Slammer!" campaign, jointly run by the Department of Public Safety and the South Carolina Highway Patrol. It will run through Sept. 7.

In 2010, more than 350 people -- or about one every day -- were killed in South Carolina in accidents caused by drunk drivers. More than 250 of those killed were involved in accidents where the driver's blood-alcohol level exceeded 0.15.

State authorities reiterated that while the public's help is necessary, they wish it weren't so. The only way to end drunk driving, they said, is never to drink and drive.

Since that likely is not realistic, the state is taking a positive step through its increased patrols and its public campaign. The investment in time and effort to run the campaign could help to keep intoxicated drivers off the road.

Source: The Sun News, "SC officials hope DUI crackdown curbs drunken-driving deaths, Aug. 19, 2012

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