TAMPA - Christmas Eve, 1998, changed Darlene Carothers forever.
"I haven't put up a tree since. I still give my children gifts, but I order them online. I pretty much stay away from anything that resembles Christmas," said Carothers.
The holiday is tarnished because that is when her 16-year-old son, Mike, was killed by a drunk driver.
"It's supposed to be a time for opening presents. Instead, a Florida Highway Patrolman came to my door with the news," said Carothers.
Police say Tampa is third worst in the state when it comes to people dying in drunk driving crashes. Nine people have died in 2012.
TPD is using a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to pay overtime for officers who will be on the lookout for drunk drivers during holidays, spring break, and summer months.
Darlene, who still wears her son's chain around her neck, tells anyone who will listen not to get behind the wheel if you've had too much too drink. But she says, sadly, so many still do.
"It's senseless. And it does enrage me. There's so many other options."
The increased patrols start Thursday and go into the new year.
The drunk driver in Mike's case was sentenced to 17 years in jail.
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