All South Carolina Cities

Contest to Catch Drunk Drivers

If you drink and drive, you are being hunted. And there’s a prize for the winner of the challenge.

Last year, it came down to medals for the number of DUI arrests. For example, three Lexington County Sheriff Deputies got medals, a silver for Dep. Keith Sprinkle (between 25 and 49 DUI arrests last year), and Bronze medals for Deputies Thomas Fine and Cliff Smith (10 to 24 arrests). The awards come from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

This year, the DUI Enforcement Challenge can get an officer’s agency a new police car or an in-car digital camera.

The current contest tracks DUI arrests between December of last year and September of this year to determine which departments are eligible for prizes. Agencies must meet several requirements and report to the Office of Highway Safety. The Law Enforcement Network (LEN)for each of two regions will participate in a drawing to determine which of their departments will win one of two new police vehicles. Other LENs will do the same for the digital cameras.

If the challenge gives officers a bit of esprit de corps and motivation, that’s great. Healthy competition is good policy and a little inter-service rivalry is the norm. On the other hand, no one should expect officers to change the way they do their job, simply because of a contest. We fully expect all officers to meet their obligations to the best of their abilities. What this contest does is distribute resources to those departments doing the most to get impaired drivers off the roads.

Departments must be “full participants” to qualify, and a few of the criteria are:

* Conduct primary impaired driving detection and enforcement efforts (checkpoints, saturation/directed patrols) at least one weekend a month during nighttime hours.

* Step up DUI enforcement during the “Sober or Slammer” campaign.

* Conduct aggressive and additional enforcement of the State’s safety belt and child passenger safety laws during the Memorial Day, “Buckle Up South Carolina” campaign.

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