SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – For those driving on Missouri roadways this weekend, the Highway Patrol is working to ensure you make it there safely. Law enforcement agencies all across the country will be stepping up efforts to deter drinking and driving.
Highway Patrol, area police departments, and sheriff’s offices will be participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over initiative.
“We are not looking to write the ticket, but we are out there to be a deterrent, to be vigilant of aggressive driving behavior and just providing assistance when needed,” said Sgt. Jason Pace with Missouri State Highway Patrol.
So, don’t be surprised if you see more checkpoints and officers on the roads for the next couple of weeks.
“Typically, every available officer will be out there on the road,” said Pace.
Local and state agencies nationwide will be cracking down on impaired drivers through the holidays.
“Drunk driving crashes are 100 percent preventable,” said Pace. “They are not accidents.”
Weather conditions plus impaired driving increases the chances of a traffic crash.
“Even the slightest amount of alcohol can impair a person’s ability to drive,” he said.
A checkpoint in Springfield on Friday led to 8 DWI arrests. On Monday, an Arkansas man was sentenced to seven years in prison.
“Which is under the average for this offense,” said Dan Patterson, Greene County Prosecutor.
41-year-old Roger Sallee was convicted of chronic DWI after his seventh conviction.
“He had so many priors, really the only way to keep people safe is to ensure that he is off the roads and in prison,” said Patterson.
In Missouri, a first DWI comes with fines of up to $500 and up to six months in jail. And Patterson says individuals go through DWI court.
“So there’s both accountability and treatment that go hand in hand,” Patterson said.
The goal of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is to keep anyone from getting that far. And ensure that family members arrive alive.
“There are opportunities today to avoid driving after drinking,” Patterson said.
Sgt. Pace says in the last year, there were 870 crash fatalities in Missouri and about 226 of them involved either an intoxicated or impaired driver.
“If you ask one of our officers what the worst part of our job is, it’s having to work those crashes,” said Pace.