Crime & Courts

Agencies get new cars to catch DUI motorists

Using federal funds, the S.C. Department of Public Safety today awarded 15 new vehicles to police agencies around the state.

The new cars — which will be used to help crack down on drunken and drug-impaired drivers in the upcoming holiday season — will be fitted with special siren and light police packages.

Among the agencies getting either a new Dodge Charger or a Chevrolet Tahoe were the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department and the Benedict College police department.

“Getting new vehicles is great, but putting impaired drivers in jail is better," said SCDPS Director Mark Keel. "The vehicles awarded today will be used in the continuing effort to clear South Carolina roads of those who choose to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

During the DPS’s Sober or Slammer! Christmas/New Year's holiday period from December 12, 2008 to January 1, 2009, 21 people were killed in DUI-related crashes. Impaired driving remains the top cause of traffic fatalities in South Carolina.

About 200 local law enforcement agencies submitted applications to win a new police car. The criteria used in selecting the winning law agencies included DUI arrests and setting up checkpoints.

The grants for the new cars were funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

(Reach Monk at 803-771-8344.)