JOPLIN, Mo. — Nearly 100 law enforcement officers from four states turned out recent ly to kick off a program to crack down on drunken drivers.
Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas will participate in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” program that runs through Sept. 3.
“This four-state event is a symbol of the unified effort across the United States to cut down on impaired driving crashes,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Garrett Vowell said in a prepared statement.
The “don't drink and drive” message is a combined message from law enforcement, firefighters and other rescue personnel, he said.
“If you choose otherwise, law enforcement will be watching, and you will be arrested,” Vowell said.
In Oklahoma, a person operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level higher than .08 is driving illegally.
Troopers, a prosecutor and others from Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri spoke during the kickoff. Speakers said drunken driving crashes are not accidents — they are 100 percent preventable.
“I attended three funerals in three days,” said Jessi Scott, Victims' Panel of Oklahoma Inc. regional director. “I also saw my boyfriend sentenced to prison for manslaughter.”
Scott said a carefree night with the guys turned deadly when her boyfriend ran over a friend, dragging him 40 feet down the highway, and then slammed underneath a tractor-trailer. The crash decapitated another friend and broke a third friend's neck, she said.
Trooper Shawn Cummings, a 15-year patrol veteran and law enforcement liaison, recalled his first drunken driving crash.
“I remember the screams from a grandmother as she held her 6-year-old granddaughter,” he said. “I can still see the girl's blond hair and dangling legs.”
A man, who had just consumed two pitchers of beer at a pizza restaurant, hit the child with his pickup, Cummings said.
There are certain gasps a dying person makes, he said.
“I will never forget.”