The York Police Department has been recognized by the state for its enforcement of drinking and driving laws.
The state Department of Public Safety named York the “Agency of the Year” among police departments of similar size. The award is based on police efforts in 2013 to educate the public on the driving under the influence law and its work to enforce the law.
Last year, the York department made 86 DUI-related arrests – up from 34 arrests in 2012. Officers worked with the state Highway Patrol to conduct additional checkpoint screenings throughout the year and hosted talks with local youth to teach them about the dangers of drunken driving.
“We absolutely believe that law enforcement are such key partners to saving lives,” said Steven Burritt, program and fund development manager for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in South Carolina.
Burritt said research shows high visibility checkpoints drive down alcohol-related fatalities. While drunk-driving deaths have gone down nationally in recent years, 2012 was a “bad year” with more than 10,000 deaths.
The state also saw a 16 percent increase from 2011 to 2012 with a total of 358 fatalities. Burritt said other states had one-digit percent increases.
Though Burritt is hopeful enforcement efforts coupled with pending state legislation such as Emma’s Law, which locks ignitions for first-time drunken drivers, will help change the state’s reputation as being “one of the worst” for DUI deaths in the country.
Individual awards also were given to officers with the highest number of DUI arrests.
Cpl. Bill Stiles was awarded a Silver DUI Hero Award pin for having made at least 25 DUI arrests last year. Lt. Keith Wills and Sgt. Tim Dover each received a Bronze DUI Hero Award pin for having made at least 10 arrests last year.