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WICHITA, Kansas – Additional officers and deputies will be on the road between now and Labor Day enforcing Kansas drunk driving laws.
The annual “You Drink. You Drive. You Lose.” enforcement campaign is supported by a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation.
About 150 agencies across Kansas will take part in the program, including the Wichita Police Department, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Their aim is to drastically reduce the number of preventable deaths and injuries that occur when alcohol is mixed with driving.
KDOT says each year about 120 people die and more than 2,000 people are injured in alcohol-related accidents in Kansas.
Amanda Rice, 18, died when her boyfriend drove drunk and crashed his pickup into a pole.
Now, her mother is on a mission to teacher others about the dangers of drunk driving.
“Every parent thinks what it would be like to lose a child. It’s not, the feeling you feel is not even a drop in the bucket of what it truly feels like,” said Kelly Rice, victim’s mother.
Rice says it’s all about choices.
She says her daughter’s boyfriend made the bad choice to drink before he was 21 and then chose to drive.
She says her daughter made the bad choice to get in a vehicle with a driver who had been drinking.
Rice says she taught her daughter not to drink before 21.
“But I never thought about teaching her not to get into a car with someone who’d been drinking and driving,” she said.
Rice shares her story through the DUI Victim Center of Kansas and by joining a panel that speaks to drivers who’ve been arrested for DUI.
She says the drivers usually start the sessions unhappy to be there and unwilling to listen, but afterward they often thank her for reaching out to them.
As for the driver responsible for her daughter’s death, Rice says the boyfriend only suffered minor injuries in the accident. He was sentenced to almost four years in prison.
The Wichita Police Department says high-visibility enforcement, like this campaign, reduces drunk driving deaths by as much as 20 percent.