Keeping your holiday guests out of the slammer

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Since the "Sober or Slammer" campaign kicked off last weekend, 23 people are facing DUI charges in the Pee Dee.

The number passes the amount of DUI arrests this same time last year. Now agencies want to warn people hosting holiday gatherings about the risks of letting their guests get behind the wheel after they've had a few drinks.

Officials from the Florence County Sheriff's Office say there's a spike in DUI arrests during the holiday season. But there are ways to avoid the slammer and get your guests home safely after a holiday gathering.

"Typically most people have a tough time confronting someone," said CEO Randy Cole of Circle Park Behavioral and Health Services in Florence.

If your party guest has had to much to drink, Cole says you need to act.

"If you know someone has had excess of alcohol you need to take their keys away. Say hey you don't need to drive and it's okay to get aggressive with them and if you have to call the authorities to get them home safely that's what you gotta do," said Cole.

He says the best way to get your guests home safely is to plan ahead of time.

"Already plan a cab, do your research and already have available transportation for those folks... If you can afford a server, I would recommend that because they can modify how much alcohol is put in the drinks and monitor how many drinks people are having," said Cole.

Another good tip to having a safe party with drinks in hand, is to set a beginning and ending time for the party.

"You can't just say eight until. If you do that you will have folks drinking more. If there's a set time that will help with a two or three hour period and then the party is over," said Cole.

It takes about an hour for the average body to absorb one standard drink, which equals a 12 ounce beer, five ounces of wine or about 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Captain Mike Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff's Office says the number of people driving under the influence of alcohol spikes during the holiday season, especially from Christmas to New Years.

Captain Nunn says, not only can drinking and driving cost a life, but it can cost up to $10,000, a suspended license and jail time.

He says it's easier to just avoid a DUI.

"Things that motivate people to drink and drive during the course of the year just intensifies during the holidays," says Nunn.

That's why the Florence County Sheriff's Office is partnering with the South Carolina Highway Patrol for the "Sober or Slammer" campaign.

Officials say the extra patrol and check points are not only for getting the drunk drivers off the road and keeping you safe.

"This operation is designed to show a very visible and aggressive enforcement in the DUI laws, hopefully to be a deterrent to those who might consider drinking and driving over the holidays," said Nunn.

If you suspect a drunk driver on the road, officials say you can dial *-H-P or E-9-1-1.

"Give the information for what you observe, where the location is and the highway patrol and law enforcement will take it from there," said Nunn.

Copyright 2011 WMBF News. All rights reserved.