Billboard issues warning to drivers

A new billboard going up this week gives a warning – don’t drive impaired.

The billboard can be seen on S.C. Highway 3 (near Barnwell Pediatrics) by Friday, Sept. 1, said Axis 1 Director of Prevention Services Pam Rush.

“The billboard is to increase awareness of the risk of getting caught if you are out drinking and driving,” said Rush.

For all of 2016 there were 50 DUI arrests in Barnwell County and already there have been 51 this year, said Rush.

The warning comes just in advance of the three-day Labor Day weekend. Labor Day is Monday, Sept. 4 and a time when many South Carolinians are on vacation.

She said local and state law enforcement have been working together to promote awareness, reduce the incidence of DUIs and increase the number of community safety checkpoints, she said. “The billboards are to remind people to not get behind the wheel if they are drinking or otherwise impaired,” said Rush.

Arrests and convictions can mean jail time, legal fees, increased insurance costs and restricted mobility. Impaired driving can also result in lives lost and injuries. “It’s just not worth the risk,” said Rush. “Give the keys to someone else who is sober or just stay in place.”

Being a responsible driver is simple – if you are drinking, plan not to drive, said Rush. She said to consider these tips:

1. Before drinking, choose a non-drinking friend as a designated driver.

2. Don’t let your friends drive impaired.

3. If you have been drinking, call a taxi or ride service. Some communities have Safe Ride programs for a free ride home.

4. If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.

5. Always wear your seat belt— it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.

Also, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) will restrict lane closures on interstate highways during the Labor Day holiday from 6 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 1, until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Motorists may keep up with travel conditions by using SCDOT’s 511 system, which provides real-time traffic information on all South Carolina Interstate highways and some of the highways along the coast. Users can call 511 or access and download the free app.