Eminence Police Officer Phillip Parham has a passion for nabbing drunk drivers.
That passion recently earned Parham recognition by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for his work with the Eminence Police Department.
For the third year in a row he picked up the Governor’s Impaired Driving Enforcement Award for making the most Driving Under the Influence arrests in the department.
Parham was responsible for 71 of the 108 made by the agency.
It was the first time he also received the 2009 Division 1 award for making the most DUI arrests in a department with 10 or fewer officers.
Parham said all officers on the Eminence Police Department share a common goal.
“We all look at it the same way,” Parham said. “We are going to keep doing what we’re doing and keep people safe in the community.”
Eminence Police Chief Carey Duncan said the Christmas and New Year holidays are a particularly good time of year to remind residents of their responsibility to drive sober.
He said people may not know that last December more than 900 people died in alcohol-related crashes in the United States. “It is important to recognize that there are consequences,” Duncan said.
Parham said statistically one in seven drivers on the road between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Parham said the Kentucky 55 corridor between I-71 and I-64 relates to an increased amount of traffic in general, and a higher number of impaired drivers coming through Eminence. “We get a lot of people from out of town,” he said.
Parham said people leaving bars in Eminence, the only part of the county where alcohol is sold, comprise less than 10 percent of the department’s alcohol-related arrests.
He said the department is inflexible when it comes to impaired drivers.
“If you break the law,” Parham said, “we are going to arrest you. It’s my opinion there should be no leniency when it comes to that.”
Chief Carey Duncan said getting impaired drivers off the street has been Parham’s major focus since being hired in January 2007.
“He’s got some passion for the job,” he said. “He’s done an outstanding job.”
Parham said an alleged drunk driving accident that took the life of New Castle resident, Robert Nolan, in September reflects the tragedy of impaired driving.
“When you pull up to an accident with a fatality, the fatality will be the sober person,” he said. “I responded to that scene and it’s one I’ll never forget. One fatality is too many.”
Duncan said sometimes his officers are just in the right place at the right time, but they also watch motorists for cues that a drunk driver displays. He said failure to signal, rolling through a stop sign and drifting over the center line all are cues that a driver is intoxicated.
“If Officer Parham finds probable cause to believe that a driver is impaired,” Duncan said, “he will provide that person with a pair of metal bracelets and see that he or she is taken to lock-up.”
Parham did have some advice for people who want to enjoy alcoholic beverages responsibly. “Get somebody else to drive you,” he said, “and you don’t have to worry about me.”
Parham said people should remember that drinking and driving may affect a lot of people including loved ones.
“The family I’ve saved by stopping you might be yours,” he said.
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