It's Christmastime: a time to be merry. But the law enforcement officers reminded citizens Thursday that drinking and driving this holiday season will not be tolerated and encouraged citizens to report possible violators by calling *HP (47) or 9-1-1.
"Every DUI stop or arrest we make is a potential life saved," S.C. Highway Patrol Troop 6 Commander Capt. Chris Williamson said. "One drink is one too many if you're planning to drive."
Williamson added that the holiday season typically means parties with alcohol, which is why law enforcement agencies have made stopping DUIs a priority this time of year.
Williamson was joined by Dorchester County Sheriff L.C. Knight and Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon during Thursday's media event. Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt could not make the event, but is participating with the tri-county agencies.
According to Williamson, Berkeley County has seen an increase in traffic fatalities in 2011, while its neighboring counties have stayed relatively the same. Dorchester County has had the least amount of fatalities among the region.
Williamson cited recent incidents, such as the Ladson woman who drove the wrong way on I-26, as reasons to curb drunk driving in the Charleston area and the rest of the state.
Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said his department will specifically target rural roads, which see a higher number of fatalities. According to Public Information Officer Maj. Jim Brady, the Charleston County Sheriff's Office will have roving deputies but no additional checkpoints to the S.C. Highway Patrol's.
The S.C. Highway Patrol and Dorchester County Sheriff's Office are expected to release their holiday checkpoints soon. Berkeley County Sheriff's Office has already released its checkpoints, which begin Saturday and continue through New Year's Day. (See above map for checkpoints.)
"When they get to drinking, they forget about (the designated checkpoints)," Williamson said.
Cannon said party goers should use the old saying "Friends don't let friends drive drunk."
"If you are with a loved one, find some other way to get them home," Cannon said.