The Department of Public Safety formally introduced their new DUI task force team made up of 31 state troopers. These troopers were selected for the task force due to their ability to detect impaired drivers and to prosecute them in court. Although highway fatalities were down in the state in 2008, the number of DUI fatalities rose. South Carolina ranks second in the nation in that category. DPS is concerned with this trend and is doing everything they can to encourage South Carolinians to avoid getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Corporal Bryan McDougald says this unit serves one purpose, to make South Carolina roadways safer.
“The task force is specifically geared for the detection of impaired drivers and ultimately, the goal would be to prevent crashes involving impairment and fatalities, because you may know that South Carolina ranked as the second most deadly state in the nation in 2008 when it comes to alcohol-related fatalities,” said McDougald.
Corporal McDougald says the DUI statistics in South Carolina are cause for serious concern. “I saw a stat,” he said, “and I can’t quote it verbatim. It is something that is alarming to me and I’ve been a state trooper for 20 years. I just didn’t realize this. Even though our fatalities were reduced last year, in 2008, which is a good thing but one too many, of course, the DUI collisions were up. More people died in DUI-related collisions then were murdered.”
McDougald says just because there is a task force now, it does not mean they are the only troopers making DUI arrests. “This will ultimately, I don’t know what the right word is (is it supplement or compliment?) the road troopers we already have,” he said.
“Our road troopers already have training in DUI detection. We have several troopers that qualify for the team, I’m sure, and arrest the drunk drivers they see and prosecute them. They’re still out there. They’re not going to stop looking for drunk drivers because we have a specialized team. They’re going to work together.”
He says their ultimate goal is to prevent all DUI related fatalities. According to Corporal McDougald, “It would be a great day if there were no impaired drivers on the roadway but stats show that last year, almost half of people who died in crashes died because someone chose to drink alcohol and drive.
“Now, if our troopers are out there arresting violators and putting people in jail it’s because, one, they were out there driving impaired–that means they’re out there. But the most important number our guys look at is that fatality number. That is emailed out to every trooper in the state everyday.”
These 31 troopers will be assigned to lead team across the state’s 46 counties.