35 arrested as part of national campaign against intoxicated driving

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 | 5:27 p.m. CDT; updated 11:29 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 11, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Police Department arrested 35 intoxicated drivers from Aug. 17 to Sept. 3 as part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over national campaign.

During the campaign, the police arrested 30 intoxicated drivers throughout Columbia, along with five more at a checkpoint near University Avenue and Matthews Street on MU's campus, according to a news release.

Columbia Police Sgt. Curtis Perkins said this number is normal for a typical enforcement period, which occurs about six times per year.

The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is directed toward youth alcohol enforcement. Perkins said he believes the average intoxicated driver in Columbia is in his or her early '20s. 

Substance-impaired driving contributes to nearly 30 percent of all Missouri traffic fatalities, according to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety.

Perkins said police increased efforts this year by sending out patrols of three to five officers to look for intoxicated drivers during the hours of 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. For this enforcement period, police conducted four of these "saturation patrols."

The department was able to send out extra officers because of a grant from the Missouri Division of Highway Safety, according to a news release. Police received $10,000 for sobriety checks and $12,000 for saturation patrols to be used from Oct. 1, 2011, through Sept. 30, 2012. 

Perkins said he thinks campaigns like Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over help to raise awareness of the message that police are enforcing. 

"This (national campaign) in general is important because intoxicated drivers kill people," Perkins said. "It's just as simple as that."

Perkins said that he has seen an increase in designated drivers in Columbia. 

"People are making smart choices using taxi services or getting sober rides home when people are too intoxicated to drive," Perkins said. 

Officers will conduct another checkpoint this week. 

Supervising editor is Jacob Kirn.

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