COLUMBIA -- The South Carolina Department of Public Safety joined local law enforcement around the state today to send a strong message about impaired driving enforcement as summer in South Carolina draws to a close. In the weeks prior to Labor Day, state and local law enforcement agencies will intensify their efforts to crack down on drunk driving and reduce DUI-related traffic deaths in South Carolina. The campaign also will continue the emoji concept that began with billboards earlier this summer.
Summer is typically one of the deadliest seasons on our highways. While summer is not over yet, statistics are showing about a 14 percent decrease in fatalities this summer compared to 2015. So far, 199 people have died traveling South Carolina roadways this summer compared to 231 motorists in Summer of 2015.
Additionally, highway fatalities are down for the entire year compared to last year at this time. Since January, 582 people have died compared to 601 last year at this time.
State and local law enforcement have teamed up for an impaired driving crackdown that will include a unified enforcement component as well as alternative advertising such as DUI messages on ice boxes, gas pumps, billboards and box trucks. The Sober or Slammer! campaign will expand the department’s use of emojis to include a television public service announcement about the consequences of driving while impaired.
“Law enforcement will begin high visibility enforcement of our DUI laws from now through Labor Day as part of our Sober or Slammer!campaign,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. “From 2009-2013, we experienced a 9.1 percent reduction in alcohol-impaired fatalities, but we must work even harder. Our goal is zero impaired driving fatalities, and that means we have to be creative in getting the public’s attention about this deadly driving behavior.”
The enforcement blitz – part of the Sober or Slammer! campaign – is spearheaded by SCDPS with the cooperation of local enforcement agencies statewide and runs from August 19 to September 5. The goal is to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities caused by motorists driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Through the emoji concept, the department has taken a new approach to the serious and deadly crime of DUI. SCDPS began the initiative with billboards that showed an emoji symbol of two mugs of beer plus a car, which equaled a police car. The idea: you drink and drive, you go to jail. This emoji concept caught motorists’ attention. As a result, SCDPS has further expanded the emoji story line to a television public service announcement.
“The use of emojis has taken our safety messages from a virtual world to a broader audience,” said Highway Patrol Col. Mike Oliver. “This concept has put us in touch with an important – and sometimes difficult-to-reach – segment of the population: younger drivers.”
The new public service announcement shows two young men in an emoji car as they get pulled over by Highway Patrol Sgt. Bob Beres, also known as “Trooper Bob,” in his emoji police vehicle. The spot ends with Trooper Bob leading the DUI suspect to his patrol vehicle to place him under arrest.
SC Highway Patrol urges motorists to call *HP or *47 if they see someone they suspect is driving impaired. Signs can include: driving erratically; weaving in and out of lanes; driving too fast or too slowly; crossing the center line or briefly drifting off the roadway.
The SCDPS Sober or Slammer! campaign is part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown coordinated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The national effort includes state and local law enforcement agencies across the country. The campaign combines high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety includes the Highway Patrol, State Transport Police, Bureau of Protective Services, Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs, Immigration Enforcement Unit and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame. Our mission is to ensure public safety by protecting and serving the people of South Carolina and its visitors.