Columbia Police Cracking Down on Drunk Driving

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COLUMBIA - Monday marks the end of a campaign by the Columbia Police Department focused on drunk driving. The campaign is tied to prom and graduations occurring around the city this month.

Officers said they are not only more aware of possible drivers under the influence, there are also more officers on the roads.

"Typically, we have more people on the street during the actual campaigns," Officer Lori Simpson said. "We will do more saturation patrols and more checkpoints."

These campaigns usually occur around holidays and celebrations like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and New Year's Eve. With Columbia being a college town, campaigns may also be run when students return for classes from spring or summer break.

Another focus of the Columbia Police Department is underaged drinking and driving.

Between 2010 and 2012, 77 people died in Missouri as a result of a car accident with an impaired driver under the age of 21. 

Missouri has a zero tolerance law for those younger than 21 years old.

Columbia Police officers said taking other forms of transportation is the best way to stay safe when out drinking.

"I feel like we're doing a tremendous service to the community," Billy Williams, owner of Billy Williams VIP Limousine Service, said. "We want someone to get home safe and not endanger anyone else's life."

The number of annual DWI arrests in Columbia decreased from 588 in 2004 to 397 in 2012. Despite that, Simpson said the campaigns are necessary. "The campaigns are always going to be necessary because the numbers are still there. So even though we have seen a decrease, there are still impaired drivers off the road, and we need to get those off the road."