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Home  |  News  |  Highway Patrol prepares for holiday DUI crackdown

Highway Patrol prepares for holiday DUI crackdown
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

COLUMBIA, SC - The next time you decide to drive home after having drinks with friends, Jon-Erik Hartfield wants you to think of him.

Think of the academic scholarship to USC that Hartfield lost. Think of his long legs that once lept over hurdles but now can’t carry the 26-year-old across the room. Think of Hartfield’s inability to remember much of anything for longer than 30 seconds, including the last three sentences you just read.

“Every day is a very hard struggle for me,” Hartfield said. “It is impossible for me to enjoy life like other people my age.”

In July 2003, Hartfield, who lives in Greenwood, was a passenger in a car that was struck by an intoxicated driver. The crash caused such severe injuries that Hartfield spent seven months in a coma with machines feeding him and helping him breathe. The recovery was long and painful, and now Hartfield wants people to learn a lesson from his ordeal.

Hartfield, who uses a walker, spoke Friday at the State House as the S.C. Highway Patrol rolled out its annual Sober or Slammer campaign. More than 30 officers from local police and sheriffs’ departments joined Highway Patrol officers to introduce a new television commercial aimed at reminding people how deadly drunken driving can be.

“South Carolina has had enough,” said patrol Lt. Col. Michael Oliver. “We have had enough crashes. We have had enough injuries. We have had enough deaths. We have had enough heartbroken families. We have had enough excuses.”

South Carolina ranks third in the nation in the number of traffic fatalities caused by drunken driving, said Phil Riley, director of the state’s Office of Highway Safety. In 2009, alcohol-impaired drivers killed 377 people in the state, he said.
The heart of the campaign is a new, two-part commercial featuring a young, up-and-coming man and his girlfriend celebrating a promotion with friends at a fancy restaurant. The man finishes an expensive bottle of wine, insists he can drive and then hits a pedestrian on the way home.

The commercial will air across the state between now and the Labor Day weekend. Anti-drunken driving messages also will be posted on billboards and will air on radio stations.

Law enforcement will increase patrols by having extra officers on duty and setting up highway checkpoints, Oliver said. He encouraged motorists to call *47 on their mobile phones to report other drivers they suspect to be drunken or on drugs.
Hartfield hopes people heed the warnings.

“Whenever you drink or do drugs and drive, which I know you do, realize everyone’s freedom is in danger,” he said. “You may serve 90 days in jail, but remember me and the thousands of others whose freedom is taken when you make the choice to drink and drive.”

Source: http://www.thestate.com/2011/08/19/1939973/highway-patrol-prepares-for-holiday.html

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