North St. Louis County law enforcement will be stepping up efforts in the fight against drunk driving this holiday season after receiving a grant to purchase a Breath Alcohol Testing, or BAT van.
The BAT van helps keep officers on the street to detect more impaired drivers, as opposed to hauling individual arrests to police stations. The van will be shared among the North St. Louis County police departments, including 36 different law enforcement agencies.
Leanna Depue, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation's Highway Safety Division, said that highway safety has helped purchase 23 BAT vans throughout the state of Missouri.
"Law enforcement agencies will be mobilizing December sixth through twelfth in statewide sobriety checkpoints and selected enforcement practices to try to keep people, deter people, from choosing this very irresponsible behavior," Depue said. In 2009, 280 people were killed, more than 1,100 seriously injured and more than 3,700 received minor injuries in crashes involving an impaired driver.
Sergeant Al Nothum is with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
"The patrol will be responding in force this month with DWI checkpoints, DWI saturations and work zone operations," Nothum said, "All these to reduce traffic crashes and save lives."
During the 2009 holiday impaired driving mobilization from Dec. 7-13, law enforcement officers statewide issued 371 driving while intoxicated violations.
Michael Campbell with Mother's Against Drunk Driving was present at Sunday's unveiling at the Hazelwood Police Department. Campbell said he knows the joy of the holiday season and the pain of losing a loved one to a drunk driver.
"I know the void that is created with a loved one gone," Campbell said, "And I also know the guilt and the shame, because I'm the drunk driver that killed my son and injured two children for life. He died because I chose to drink and drive."
The BAT van will be used in the statewide holiday impaired driving mobilization this week.
In case you were wondering about that reference in the first line of the story (video & audio, The "Batman" theme):