ST. LOUIS - In 2016, 244 Missourians were killed in drunk driving incidents, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Since then, MADD, police and Missouri Department of Transportation have stepped up efforts to prevent these "completely preventable deaths."
This Saturday (Aug. 25) evening, law enforcement will saturate the community with officers focused on catching impaired drivers. Peggy Snyder, mother of fallen St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder, will serve as the guest speaker and offer words of encouragement as officers head out to save lives.
"(Blake) had a true passion for what he did," said Snyder. "A true calling to become a policeman. I think through his ability to stop drunk drivers, I think he saw that he could make a real difference."
As part of this year's "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, 95 officers from 25 St Louis area police departments will participate in "Saturation Saturday." Across Missouri, 200 officers will participate from 66 departments as well as officers in Illinois and New York.
Meghan Carter, Executive Director of MADD Missouri, says publicized events like this make people think twice before getting behind the wheel.
"It really does serve as a deterrent to the community, because, they're going to make a better choice knowing law enforcement is going to be out there," she said.
According to Sergeant Scott Roach, Supervisor of the Highway Safety Unit of the St. Louis County Police Department, there will be no checkpoints, and officers will not be concentrated in one area or intersection. Enforcement will be spread out throughout the greater St. Louis area.
"We want this to be a deterrence, not so much a 'Gotcha!'" he explained.
Snyder has seen the tragic impact of impaired driving firsthand. She spent her career working as a pediatric trauma nurse in the emergency room. There, she tended to children who were injured or killed in these types of crashes.
In addition, Snyder's friend lost her son when he was hit by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle.
Snyder said her son's commitment to stopping drunk drivers came from losing his own friend.
"Before he had become a police officer he had a very good friend who was hit head-on by a drunk driver," said Snyder. "(The victim) was the father of two young children, and that had a tremendous impact on (Blake)."
Police officers are often the first to arrive on the scene after a drunk driving accident, and Roach said it is a problem that continues to plague the greater St. Louis community.
"It's been a problem every year. It's been a problem for as long as people have been driving cars and drinking alcohol, unfortunately."
It can be easy to get hung up on the sad statistics of the number of accidents and lives lost to impaired drivers, but Carter said MADD also celebrates the "invisible victories," the countless lives saved each time an officer gets an impaired driver off the street. Snyder said she hopes to remind officers of this while upholding her son's values and working to make a difference in his honor.