Missourians killed or injured by drunk drivers were remembered today in a ceremony at the State Capitol.
Officials say 281 people were killed in crashes involving impaired drivers last year. More than 1,100 suffered serious injuries and more than 3,700 received minor injuries.
Colonel Ronald Replogle is Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He recalled the first fatal crash he worked early in his career, in which a young man wrecked his pickup while driving drunk.
"He chose to drink and drive, he chose not to wear his seat belt, and it cost him his life," Replogle said. "From that day forward, I pledged to do everything that I could, as a State Trooper, to remove drunk drivers from our roadway(s)."
The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety puts the death toll over the past five years at nearly 1,400.
Phaedra Marriott-Olsen of Jefferson City was paralyzed by a drunk driver in 1996.
"As a result of this instant in time, a life can move from a high point to an unrecoverable low," Marriott-Olsen said. "This instant can alter lives forever."
State Troopers and local law officers across Missouri have beefed up sobriety check points and saturation patrols this week, thanks to a program providing overtime pay that covers the cost of the extra checkpoints and patrols.
In addition, Marriott-Olsen says an online memorial has been set up to remember Missouri victims of impaired drivers. The web address is: