Police plan crackdown on drunk drivers this summer

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - When you're driving this summer, you will notice more than just plenty of traffic on the roads. You will also see plenty of officers, and more safety checkpoints than usual. Officers and deputies have been busy handling Bike Rallies this spring, but now that we are in the "100 Deadly Days of Summer," they are back in full force on all the roadways.

Officers are looking for drivers under the influence in different ways. There will be saturation areas, where officers are stationed to only monitor and handle the traffic. You can also count on nearly double the amount of the usual checkpoints this month. From Garden City to Little River, all the different areas of Horry County will be fair game. But law enforcement picks the checkpoint locations for a reason. The flashing lights will be in the areas where there is normally a high number of traffic tickets and violations. Sergeant Jeff Benton with The Horry County Sheriff's Office says it's usually the streets where drivers think they can get away with drinking and driving that have the issues, and this month will not be the time to try it.

"If those individuals know those back roads, those side streets from the local spot, the police know those areas as well," explained Benton. "And those are the areas that we focus on a lot."

The checkpoints will also make sure people have their driver's license and insurance, and that they are wearing a seatbelt. This is a warning now because if they catch you, there will be a zero tolerance policy all summer long.

The focus isn't just on drivers, but also minors. Several Horry County School District graduations start Thursday, and this is the time of year when underage drinking ramps up. Deputies tell WMBF News minor in possession violations happen nearly every day, and the alcohol has to come from somewhere, so the focus is on who is giving it.

Officers are getting ready to do compliance checks this week with businesses, where they send in a minor to see if they can order a drink. These tests have shown it's easier than you think for your child to get their hands on alcohol. During the last round of compliance checks at more than 200 businesses, SLED wrote violations for nearly 20 percent. And there are more than 200 businesses that sell alcohol in Horry County alone.

When it comes to this issue, Business owners and all adults will be held responsible.

"Anything we write on a blue ticket, that person can be incarcerated for it," said Benton. "And I can tell you there's going to be zero tolerance from the CAST Coalition for providing alcohol to underage drinkers. You know it's the law. Abide by the law."

The Horry County CAST (Community Action for a Safer Tomorrow) Coalition has worked with the Alcohol Enforcement Team and other organizations over the past month to make sure students also understand the dangers of underage drinking.

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