Operation Safe Holiday targets drunk drivers

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YORK CITY, Pa -- The loss of a loved one is often devastating to a family, but some say deaths that could have been prevented are inexcusable.

Many are speaking out to remind people to make the right choices this holiday season, to drink responsibly and not drive.

Operation Safe Holiday reminds people to make safe choices before getting in the drivers seat, because there are some who aren't given the choice to forget.

Rhonda Grove, the mother of a DUI crime victim said "our son, was killed by a designated driver on New Year's Eve 2007. The last text message on Trent's phone was 'who will be the DD.'"

Grove lives with the loss of her son Trent to a drunk driver, his designated driver.

"Sometime throughout the night, the DD chose, like they said, it's a choice, he chose to drink alcohol," Grove said.

Rhonda's son Trent Grove is one of about 3,000 Pennsylvanians killed by drunk drivers within the last 30 years who are remembered in a traveling memorial.

PennDOT safety press officer Fritzi Screffler said "each and every one of the people who were involved in those crashes, and each and every one of the people who died was somebody's family member."

York County Assistant District Attorney Tim Barker said "I've seen names of people that I went to high school with, who I remember when they were killed by impaired drivers in high school. I see the names of people that I've represented in court as a prosecutor against the individuals who killed them."

Meanwhile, Barker says efforts to stop impaired drivers has led to a drop in DUI crime victims from 18 to seven percent.

"And that's 7 percent too high for something that is so preventable, we must work diligently so that no more name wind up in that DUI Victims Memorial," Barker said.

Many hope Operation Safe Holiday is one way accomplish that goal.

York Area Regional Police Chief Tim Damon said "there will be DUI checkpoints, road and DUI patrols, and other aggressive driving patrols, that police officers on the roadways specifically to identify and enforce the traffic laws of the commonwealth."

"The pain of losing a child is unimaginable, but losing a child to this 100 percent preventable crime is unacceptable," grove said.

Law enforcement recommends any one who is going to drink, should let a designated sober driver take the wheel or call a taxi.