Holidays see spike in drunk driving

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - While the Sober and Slammer program is going on during the holiday times, law enforcement are busy.

"People are home from the holiday," Charles Smith, who in on Mt. Pleasant's traffic unit said. "They're with their families. They're off work. They drink more and then drive, so we have to be on kind of a heightened awareness."

About 40 percent of fatal accidents in South Carolina involve drunk driving and law enforcement officials arrested 27,000 people statewide for being under the influence.

The number Smith says a lot people don't know is how many people are "drug driving", which is driving under the influence of prescription or illegal drugs.

"It's pretty common, and it's become more common lately just because of how easy it is to get prescription medication," Smith said. "My drunk driving versus drug driving arrests have been about 60-40"

He and other officers are trained to look for a number of things to spot people driving under the influence.

"Can I smell anything in the car? Stopping for green lights," Smith said. "Do they hand me their credit card versus their driver's license? I had one specifically, that made a left turn into a shopping center and they didn't use the entrance. They just drove right over the sidewalk."

Instead of trying to not look drunk, Smith says just don't drive.

"If you have to ask yourself, 'Am I ok to drive', then 'No you're not ok to drive'," Smith said. "You're out spending $50, $100, $200 at the bar, spend an extra $20 or $30 on a cab."

Right now, the Mount Pleasant Police Department only has one person certified to spot drug driving, but Smith and another officer are going to a program soon in Arizona to go through the training.

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