Drive sober Destin: State grant allows for added DUI patrol

Savannah Chastain

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s office has just completed its second quarter of the Drive Sober in Destin Campaign. The campaign is part of a new initiative to perform educational and enforcement activities using a State funded grant.

“The grant comes from the State of Florida to specifically conduct DUI and drunk driving enforcement within the city limits of Destin,” said Sergeant Jason Fulghum. “This is the first one that I know of that is specifically related to drunk driving, but we have received state grants before.”

The grant came through the assistance of the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) and has been used to fund saturation patrols, sobriety checkpoints, overtime enforcement patrols, and a message board placement.

Fulghum explained that Destin was compared to 121 other cities in the state of Florida with similar populations. As part of the comparison, data was collected over a five year period that showed the number of traffic crashes with injuries, or fatalities.

 “Out of the 121 cities, Destin ranked 10th in alcohol related crashes, and 22nd in crashes involving fatalities,” he said. “What we did is, based on the traffic matrix that is put out by the DOT, we were able to take the figures off of that matrix and use those to apply for the grant.”

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, along with the city of Destin determined that based on the data there was ample need for additional DUI enforcement.

“Nineteen percent of the crashes in Destin were alcohol related,” said Fulghum.

So far the grant has enabled three saturation patrols and one sobriety checkpoint to take place. The heightened patrols and checkpoints have resulted in seven arrests for driving under the influence and three citations for open container violations. Fulghum said that it is still early in the year to know just how effective the grant has been, but he has already seen positive public response.

“Based on the social media response, I believe that the checkpoint was very effective as a deterrent,” he said.