Agencies begin "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign

A new BAT van will allow officials to process multiple impaired drivers at a time.

Law enforcement agencies from across the area gathered in Columbia Thursday to kick off the statewide annual "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign.

The campaign will last from August 16 through September 2. During that time, local law enforcement agencies will announce when they will have a sobriety checkpoint but not reveal a specific location.

They hope the checkpoint presence will deter people from driving drunk in the first place.

According to Leanna Depue from the Missouri Department of Transportation's Traffic and Highway Safety Division, 230 people were killed and 868 people were seriously injured in crashes involving impaired drivers in 2012.

Captain Greg Kindle of the Missouri State Highway Patrol added that 30 percent of all fatality accidents in Missouri involve drunk drivers.

Columbia resident Jerry Mitchell was hit by a drunk driver will riding his motorcycle almost 10 years ago.

"The guy crossed over into my lane of traffic and took me out dead-on. The guy got out and tried to run and he fell flat on his face, he was so intoxicated," Mitchell said.

Mitchell lost the bottom portion of his left leg and sustained a traumatic brain injury in the crash.

But it was more than physical injuries causing him pain.

"I pretty much lost everything including my job I loved very, very much. And it's been a struggle," he said.

The Boone County Sheriff's Department also unveiled a new tool for their fight on impaired drivers.

A new breath alcohol testing van will increase their efficiency at DWI checkpoints.

"We've got three desks in there, three different chairs for folks to sit in. [There are] two processing areas so you can totally process two impaired drivers at the same time. Multiple breath instruments set up in there and then [there's room for] somebody else to work on booking if we need to be," Boone County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Leer said.

The van cost $40,000 and was paid for with a grant from MoDOT. The sheriff's department tried to fill the van with equipment they already had to cut down on additional cost.