A DUI crackdown on ramps to Interstate 77 in Rock Hill Sunday morning netted 17 arrests on driving under the influence charges and more than 70 total citations, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.
An operation in Lancaster County on U.S. 521 Friday night led to 10 additional arrests on DUI charges.
Troopers found 17 people suspected to be driving under the influence during license checks of drivers along the ramps of I-77 at exit 82 on Cherry and Celanese roads between midnight and 3 a.m. Sunday, said Lance Cpl. Billy Elder of the patrol.
"That's huge," Elder said. "We're surprised to arrest 17 people on one ramp in a couple hours. We think that's a lot. It shows you the type of problems we have with driving under the influence around there."
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Of the 72 total citations issued, five were drug-related, five were for driving under suspension and nine were illegal alcohol cases, he said. The rest were for routine traffic violations, such as a broken headlight or an expired registration.
In some cases, drivers were pulling up to stops with marijuana and open containers in plain sight of the officers, Elder said.
"People sometimes think they can hide on the major roads in traffic," Elder said. "They think 'Maybe I won't stand out if I'm bunched up in traffic.' It's not always a safe haven. We can set up a checkpoint like this on major arteries like we did this weekend."
Troopers worked with the York County Sheriff's Office, police from Rock Hill, York, Clover and Winthrop University at checkpoints just off I-77. More than 40 law enforcement officers worked the stop on the ramps.
The mobile breath alcohol testing unit was brought up from Columbia and parked at the ramp at Celanese Road, Elder said. When officers made an arrest, they walked the person to the BAT for testing and turned that person over to the sheriff's office to be transported to jail. Officers could then step back into the road and continue checking licenses. That coordination allowed for an efficient mass stop on a major road artery, he said.
Officials chose the ramps to I-77 in Rock Hill for Sunday's enforcement effort for several reasons: the volume of traffic, the layout of the ramps allow space to safely operate the checkpoints and past DUI and crash records from incidents in the area, Elder said.
In Lancaster County Friday night, a series of simultaneous driver's checkpoints resulted in 10 DUI arrests in two hours on U.S. 521 in Indian Land, Elder said.
Of the nearly 50 total citations issued, 12 were for illegal alcohol and four were related to drugs, Elder said.
Officers from the Highway Patrol, Highway Patrol DUI team, Lancaster Sheriff's Office, Probation, Parole, and Pardon services, Dept of Natural Resources, SLED and State Transport Police participated in both stops this weekend.
Troopers aren't done cracking down on drunk drivers and other violations that lead to deadly crashes. As the 100 Deadliest Days of summer wraps up, drivers can expect more license checkpoints, Elder said. There will be an operation in York County this week, he said, but officials aren't releasing those details yet.