Columbia police to participate in holiday DWI enforcement campaign

Impaired driving causes 30 percent of Missouri traffic fatalities.

Chris Jasper / Graphic Designer

The Columbia Police Department has plans to carry out a campaign to target impaired drivers during the holidays.

The effort is part of a statewide campaign to enforce driving while intoxicated laws, said Sgt. Curtis Perkins, CPD traffic unit supervisor.

“We want to reduce traffic fatalities, and intoxicated drivers play a big role in crashes that occur that way," Perkins said. "With that being said, adding extra enforcement can deter people from drinking and driving."

Enforcement efforts will be increased from Dec. 10-16 and will focus on reducing deaths and serious injuries caused by impaired drivers, a police department news release stated.

Impaired driving contributes to nearly 30 percent of all Missouri traffic fatalities. A total of 234 people were killed and 945 were seriously injured in 2011 in crashes involving an impaired driver, according to Missouri Division for Highway Safety statistics.

The first conviction for impaired driving can result in suspension of driver’s license for up to 90 days.

The second conviction results in a $1,000 fine, a yearlong revocation of driver’s license and up to a year in jail. Additionally, the offender is required to install an interlock ignition device, which prevents a vehicle from starting when alcohol is detected on breath.

Third and subsequent convictions can be penalized with up to a $5,000 fine, a 10-year license denial or up to seven years in jail.

Drivers that cause fatal crashes while impaired could be charged with involuntary manslaughter, a felony resulting in a period of up to seven years in jail.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol will also launch a campaign called “Click It 4 Life," which will both target impaired drivers and strictly enforce seat belt use and children restraint laws.

“Missouri is currently experiencing a 3 percent increase in traffic fatalities compared to this time last year,” Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. George E. Ridens said in a news release. “We will continue to enforce all traffic laws to help make our highways as safe as possible for all travelers.”

In 2011, a total of 784 Missourians were killed in traffic crashes. Leading causes of crashes include speeding, drinking and inattention, according to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety website.

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