Sober or Slammer: Police cracking down on drunk drivers

Updated: Dec. 13, 2017 at 10:38 PM EST
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BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) - South Carolina law enforcement is cracking down on DUIs with their 'Sober or Slammer' campaign.

They say they have absolutely no room for drinking and driving. We rode along with the Bluffton Police Department Wednesday night while they patrolled for drunk drivers. They pulled over three cars within 36 minutes, with all each driver showing signs of being impaired behind the wheel.

The Sober or Slammer campaign doesn't start for another three days, but Bluffton Police say it's never too early to make a bust for driving drunk.

The first driver swung too wide while turning.

"I'm officer Fay with the Bluffton Police Department. The reason I stopped you is because when you turned onto Penn Oak here, you made a wide turn across the double yellow line."

The second driver was stopped for not being able to maintain speed.

"The reason I stopped you is you're doing 41 in a 30," Officer Fay told the driver.

The third driver couldn't stay in their line.

"Imagine there's a straight line in front of you. Put your left foot on that line."

Officers conduct a series of tests to see if a driver should be operating a vehicle.

"I want you to follow the green light with your eyes and your eyes only. Do you understand?"

Officer Fay says they are told in training that one in every 30 drivers is impaired.

"Over half of the fatalities in the country are related to impaired driving," he said.

That's an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 53 minutes.

"Pretty much every street in this town, I've been able to locate an impaired driver. I mean, they're everywhere," Officer Fay said.

The Bluffton Police Department has made 181 DUI arrests so far in 2017. Officer Fay arrested 112 of them.

Those numbers sound steep, but Fay says a lesson learned behind bars is better than one below the dirt.

"If it means taking someone to jail for a DUI, at least they're alive and they haven't killed anyone else."

None of the three drivers pulled over Wednesday night were arrested for DUIs, but police say a life is worth a simple traffic stop. Police also want people to know if you think you are behind a drunk driver, call 911. Give the location and explain what the vehicle in question is doing, and an officer will get to you shortly.

Officials also have some tips to stop impaired drivers, such as staying clear if a driver is making unusually wide turns, straddling the center line, or driving with their tires on the center line. Also, watch out for drivers who change speeds erratically or drift and brake too much.

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