Mother warns against impaired driving after losing 7-year-old daughter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - While law enforcement is increasing patrols ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations, a mother is also sending a warning against impaired driving.

Paula Shaefer recalls memories of her first child, Sarah.

"She was fun. She was bubbly. She always had a smile on her face. She was was everything to me and my husband," Paula said.

It was one choice 17 years ago that changed Paula and her family forever after an impaired driver got behind the wheel and hit Paula's car.

The driver was drugged.

Sarah died two days later at 7-years-old.

"My baby is laid to rest here. I can't leave so if I can save a life or change a life or maybe make one person change their mind about drinking and driving  I've done my part," Paula said.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol has a campaign called Sober or Slammer to warn people against driving under the influence.

Highway Patrol's Lance Corporal Matt Southern says they are trying to help keep roads safe.

"We want folks to get in their mind that they have two choices, either drive the vehicle sober or they're going to jail," Southern said.

They are setting up safety checkpoints to target drivers that may be impaired.

"The best thing to do to keep yourself from getting charged from driving under the influence, have a plan before you start the fun," Southern said.

Paula says she sends the message against impaired driving at every opportunity she can.

"DUI is preventable, 100 percent preventable, it's a choice," she said.

Southern says they want the person that's behind the wheel to have zero alcohol in their system.

"What we do see is folks think that they're okay and they get behind the wheel of a car and it does not take much to get to .08.," he said.

That percent, .08, is the blood alcohol legal limit for our state.

Depending on your size you could be legally impaired by drinking two drinks in an hour, according to to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

DUIs can also cost you thousands of dollars.

Paying for a lawyer, a night in jail, taking special classes, getting special insurance and taking time off work are some of the factors that come with it.

Most importantly it can cost a life.

"I don't want another family to have a life sentence like my family has," Paula said.

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