Police increase patrols for Civil War weekend, hoping to save lives

Oregon State Police Springfield Patrol Office (SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. - Many are gearing up for Saturday's big rivalry game. And so is law enforcement.

Oregon State Police say the Civil War brings on one of the busiest nights of the year for DUI arrests.

"We see a significant increase in impaired drivers and DUI arrests by our troopers," said Lt. Vonn Schleicher with the OSP Springfield command.

Lt. Schleicher was stationed at Oregon State University for five years.

"College sports, particularly football, becomes more and more synonymous with celebrating and consumption of alcohol, where we get to impairment levels," Lt. Schleicher said.

Schleicher said, on Saturday, OSP will ramp up patrols, specifically on the lookout for impaired drivers.

"We'll have increased trooper presence in the stadium and around the stadium," he says. "And then on all our state highways and interstate."

Last year in Eugene, EPD says they arrested 11 drunk drivers over the Civil War weekend.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nationwide, 27 people are killed by a drunk driver every day.

Cate Duke joined Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Lane County after she experienced that loss first hand. She said it changed her life in dramatic ways.

"When you lose somebody to something that is so absolutely preventable, it's a whole different level of grief," Duke said. "It's a whole different kind of pain."

While police ramp up DUI enforcement around the holidays, MADD increases DUI awareness. Duke said, last year in America, more than 900 people were killed by drunk drivers between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

"That's almost a thousand empty chairs around tables," Duke said. "And if you can just picture what that's like. Look across the table at your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, your child, your spouse. That chair is empty and it will forever be empty. Don't be the one to cause that."

If you have lost a loved one, MADD holds an annual candle light vigil to help with the grieving process during the holidays. They will provide candles, refreshments, music, and a key note speaker. This year it is happening December 10th from 5-6:30 at the Boy Scouts of America Building in Eugene at 2525 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

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