Hoping to start Labor Day weekend on a safe note, local law-enforcement agencies will set up a DUI checkpoint Friday on U.S. 17 at the Talmadge Bridge.
The checkpoint, which begins at 9:30 p.m., is likely to add to the 14 DUI charges the S.C. Highway Patrol has made in Beaufort and Jasper counties since the start of its "Sober or Slammer" campaign Aug. 15, Senior Trooper Hannah Wimberly said. Over the holiday weekend last year, law enforcement agencies charged nine people with DUI and one each with speeding and reckless driving, according to Beaufort County records.
The Highway Patrol will be assisted by the Jasper County Sheriff's Office and Hardeeville Police Department, Wimberly said. The weekend also will bring an end to what the agency calls the 100 deadly days of summer, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Since May 26, troopers have issued 2,697 citations in Beaufort County and 934 in Jasper County, most of them for speeding and seat belt violations, according to Wimberly.
Other local agencies, including the Bluffton and Beaufort police departments, said they aren't planning checkpoints of their own but will be prepared to watch over holiday festivities.
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"Our patrol officers will keep a presence on our main roads, looking out for any aggressive or impaired drivers," Bluffton Police Maj. Joseph Manning said.
Throughout the weekend, the department will also send more officers to Old Town and the All Joy Landing, Manning said. Two Bluffton officers will skim the May River in a Carolina Skiff, and the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office's Marine and Beach Patrol units will manage crowds on and off the water, according to Lt. Mike Riley.
Those officers will buffer an increased presence by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, according to DNR spokesman Brett Witt.
Boaters can take advantage of two courtesy inspections: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at All Joy Landing and 10 a.m. to noon Sunday at Cross Island Landing on Hilton Head Island's Broad Creek.
At the inspections, officers look for boating violations -- such as problems with registration or equipment on board -- and help boaters correct them before they launch.
"As the summer heat gradually wears off, we usually see (fewer) folks on the water and therefore (fewer) safety issues or violations," Witt said.
Still, the summer's last influx of visitors keeps officers busy.
Over the holiday in 2012 and 2013, Beaufort County agencies charged a total of 13 people with public disorderly conduct, five with public intoxication and one with boating under the influence, according to county records.
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.
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