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The South Carolina Department of Public Safety and law enforcement partners statewide have begun stepped-up enforcement of impaired driving laws as part of the Sober or Slammer! campaign. Troopers are encouraging drivers to make a plan now for a safe ride home from parties and celebrations this holiday season.

The annual “Sober or Slammer!” Christmas/New Year’s campaign began Dec. 14, building on the “Drink. Drive. Die.” messaging that was introduced during the Labor Day Sober or Slammer! campaign. SCHP and local law enforcement agencies will also conduct a series of public safety checkpoint events throughout the state during the New Year’s holiday period.

Motorists will see the “Drink. Drive. Die.” messages through many venues including radio, television, digital billboard, and online/social media advertising emphasizing the serious consequences of driving while under the influence of alcohol. The advertising campaign runs as a companion to enforcement. The enforcement emphasis will run through Jan. 1, 2019.

To kick off the campaign, S.C. Highway Patrol community relations officers in each of the seven SCHP troops will post videos and information to social media highlighting the variety of options for a safe ride home.

“Our message this holiday season is just how serious the consequences of driving impaired can be,” SCDPS Director Leroy Smith said. “If you’re at an event over the holidays – and alcohol is involved — take advantage of ride-share apps, cabs or have a designated driver planned before your event.”

Steps drivers can take to ensure a safe ride home include:

• Designating a sober driver.

• Using public transportation, such as buses and shuttles.

• Calling a local cab or taxi service, or planning ahead for a cab ride home (Many local towing services also offer safe rides home and will tow the driver’s car home for a fee).

• Downloading and using ride-share apps (Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, etc.).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also doing its part to encourage safe rides and has developed the NHSTA SaferRide app, available for Android and Apple mobile devices. Users can create a profile in SaferRide and can use the app to call a friend or a local cab service for a ride home. The app can be downloaded at https://one.nhtsa.gov/link/saferride/.

According to SCDPS totals through Dec. 16, 962 people have died on the state's highways. That is more than the horrific toll of 947 at the same time a year ago.

Nearly a third of the deaths each year, on average 300 people, result from impaired driving. Last year, seven people died over the Christmas holiday travel period (Dec. 22-25).

Law enforcement will do its part to be sure impaired drivers are taken off the road. It’s up to drivers to do theirs by taking steps to ensure they are not impaired behind the wheel.

The Christmas and New Year’s holiday season is about happiness and celebration. Being arrested for driving under the influence will definitely put a damper on it. And dying or killing others while driving impaired has nothing to do with happiness and celebration.

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