Kirsten Mustain

Grove Sun

Grove Police Chief Mark Morris and Student Resource Officer Tracy Bloss traveled to Claremore Tuesday to attend a special press conference organized by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) to kick off “Over the Limit, Under Arrest,” a national campaign to crack down on drunk driving.

From August 20 to September 6 local law enforcement agencies will be partnering with OHP to step up efforts to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road.

“It’s ultimately about saving lives,” said Trooper Shawn Cummings. “We want people to make wise choices and get a designated driver if they are going to go out drinking.”

According to Claremore Assistant Police Chief Stan Brown, during 2009 6,871 Oklahoma drivers were involved in drunk driving accidents. Those accidents included 209 fatalities.

“This is a real problem,” Brown said. “Through impaired judgment these people gave themselves permission to commit a crime. The crime of drunk driving.”

Another speaker at the conference, Carolyn Hanig, a former life flight nurse, recounted a harrowing tale of landing at a drunk driving accident in which her 17-year-old son had been killed.

“Whenever there are accidents involving drinking and driving or drugging and driving, there are always serious injuries and death,” she said.

“It doesn’t only effect the victims, it effects the entire family. There is always collateral damage,” Hanig said.

“It will never be okay to be without my son,” she concluded.

Morris said Grove Police would be joining in the OHP’s efforts.

“We have zero tolerance for drunk drivers,” Morris said. “You can choose your own actions, but you can’t always choose your own consequences.”

A first DUI offense is a misdemeanor and carries a fine of $100 to $500, community service of 20 hours, and a treatment program paid for by the offender. A second offense is a felony and carries a fine of $100 to $1,000, community service of 240 hours or more, a treatment program paid for by the offender, license revocation and a required mandatory interlock device when the offender is in his or her vehicle for at least 30 days.