PONTOTOC CO., OK -- According to Oklahoma Highway Patrol more than 4,600 people were arrested this past year for driving under the influence. About 430 of those came from seven Texoma counties. That is why several local troopers chose to participate in a nationwide TV reality show busting those who drive impaired. Kristen Shanahan rode around with a trooper and gives us an exclusive look inside the operation.
It is the danger of thousands of impaired drivers taking to the streets that prompted OHP's Troop F and the Pontotoc County Sheriff's Department to participate in the "TLC" new series "D.U.I.".
While on the ride along we did not witness any DUI arrests, but over the weekend OHP says they took more than a dozen impaired drivers off the streets.
Lt. Garrett Vowell, OHP's Impaired Driving Enforcement Coordinator,
says patrolling during the nighttime is much different from the lit hours of the day. He says they look for just about any reason to pull someone over. That is because most impaired drivers hit the roads between midnight and 3 a.m.
"We want to stop as many cars as we can that are violating the laws that way we can get the impaired drivers or any type of criminal activity off the streets," Lt. Vowell said.
Lt. Vowell says the early morning hours is also the time when they see the most drug and alcohol related fatalities.
Pontotoc County Sheriff John Christian says they decided to participate in the "TLC" "D.U.I" series because they want to show people the consequences of getting behind the wheel while impaired.
"They see the process you go through. They see the loss that you go through. The cost financially, morally," Christian said.
Christian says people often just do not consider the big picture when they are under the influence and take the wheel in their hands.
"You can take someone's life. never meaning to do that, but certainly take someone's life. Maybe even your own," Christian said. "So we need to better educate people that if you're going to do that don't get in a vehicle and drive down the road."
OHP troopers say over the two nights filming for the show they made about 20 DUI arrests taking drivers off the streets who could have not only harmed themselves, but someone else.
"Usually after the fact maybe when you're heading home and you think, you know what? If that guy would have drove a couple more miles who knows what might have happened, and that's a pretty good feeling," Lt. Vowell said.
OHP says they have filmed with the reality show several times since July. This past weekend's arrests made by Troop F can be seen on the TLC series this upcoming March.