Law enforcement hope to keep DUI arrests low during New Year's holiday

Published: Jan. 1, 2015 at 4:15 AM EST|Updated: Oct. 20, 2017 at 4:10 PM EDT
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KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Law enforcement agencies throughout South Carolina have been working overtime throughout the New Year's Eve holiday to keep the roads safe, but at least one local death has been reported in the Midlands.

Kershaw County Sheriff's Office is no exception. The full staff of deputies has been patrolling for hours.

But at least one traffic death was reported in Kershaw County Wednesday night. According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, a crash just before midnight on SC 34 claimed one life.

Troopers say a passenger in the single vehicle involved in the crash after the vehicle went off the road and overturned several times. The driver was flown to a hospital in Charlotte with what were described as serious injuries. The names of the victims have not been released yet, but coroner Johnny Fellers says alcohol could have been a factor in the crash.

"New Year's Eve is a very busy night for us,” Kershaw County Deputy Tom Hathaway said. We do what we call saturation, which is basically what we're doing right now. We're patrolling around looking for violators, speeders, people running stop signs."

Sheriff Jim Matthews says he has made traffic enforcement a priority tonight and every night and it has shown.

“Last year, our DUI arrests, was, I believe it was 136,” Hathaway said. “Already this year, we have 210 arrests. So, that is a definite correlation between our DUI fatalities being down and where they were at this time last year.”

In Newberry County, extra checkpoints were set up in an effort to catch DUI offenders

"We do actually put on extra patrols..we bring in the volunteers come in and help," Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said. "The state constables and the reserve officers and we also bring in officers that may be on administrative duties."

However, the hours leading up to New Year's morning were quiet as deputies only made two arrests. Both arrests were not DUI-related. Richland County totaled another three DUI arrests while the City of Columbia came up with four. The South Carolina Highway Patrol is also assisting agencies over the course of the holiday.

The Lexington County Sheriff's Department Traffic Division reported eight arrests on New Year's Eve on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. SCHP says they made five of those arrests while the remaining three were handled by the Sheriff's Department, Lexington Police Department and Cayce Department of Public Safety. Each of those agencies finished with one arrest.

More statewide numbers for DUI arrests this weekend will not be available until some time next week.

Meanwhile, police are remind motorists to designate a drive if you plan on drinking and be sure to buckle up. If you think you see someone driving under the influence, report them to authorities by dialing *HP.

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