Columbia police to increase alcohol enforcement as academic year ends

Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | 6:34 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The city's police department launched a campaign Wednesday that will boost efforts to curb underage drinking and driving.

It's part of a statewide youth alcohol enforcement campaign — initiated by the Missouri Department of Transportation's Highway Safety Division — to organize increased DWI enforcement by different law enforcement agencies across the state, Columbia Police Sgt. Curtis Perkins said.

MoDOT's effort was brought about to discourage youth drinking and driving during peak times, such as Cinco de Mayo, proms and graduations, Perkins said.

From 2008 to 2010, 98 people were killed and 426 others were seriously injured in Missouri by intoxicated drivers who were underage, according to a news release from the Columbia Police Department.

Increased enforcement could include at least one sobriety checkpoint with Columbia's city limits and an increase in DWI patrols, but Perkins said that decision will depend on whether the police department will have enough officers available to conduct a checkpoint.

Underage drivers pulled over on suspicion of a DWI aren't the only ones being targeted. If their underage passengers have also been drinking, Perkins said police will likely arrest them on suspicion of minor in possession of alcohol. That decision is at the discretion of the officer conducting the traffic stop.

This effort isn't intended to stop taxis and safe-ride programs like STRIPES from safely conducting passengers home.

"We are trying to prevent drinking and driving first and foremost," Perkins said.

This increased enforcement will end at midnight on May 13.

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