DUI watch to increase over holidays

Published 3:06 pm Thursday, December 29, 2011

Law enforcement officers across the state of Alabama are working to remind people extra units will be out “in force” during this year’s New Years holiday looking for impaired drivers and other offenders.

Alabama State Troopers will have a heavier-than-normal presence on state roadways this season monitoring traffic and working to take drunk drivers off the streets.

Director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety Colonel Hugh B. McCall said the New Years holiday is typically a hot bead for excessive partying and is often a time when inebriated individuals are tempted to get behind the wheel.

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“This is an exciting time of year, and we want you to really enjoy the holidays with your loved ones, but please make highway safety a priority,” McCall said. “If your holiday celebrations include alcohol, designate a non-drinking driver or make other arrangements to be sure you and others on the road get home safely.”

According to McCall troopers will also be targeting other violations this holiday season that often contribute to crashes, including speeding, following too closely, driver distraction and improper passing.

Officers on the county and city levels will also have an increased presence on the roadways over the weekend. Between 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30, and midnight Monday, Jan. 2 troopers, Sheriff’s deputies and Atmore police officers will be stepping up enforcement activity.

Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith said his department will show no leniency towards drivers who get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

“It is usually pretty busy that weekend,” Smith said. “We’ll have extra people out, especially Friday night and Saturday night and we’ll have zero tolerance for drinking and driving and for people who don’t’ have their children in proper vehicle restraints.”

Atmore Police Chief Jason Dean echoed Smith’s warning to local residents – do not drink and drive and expect to not be stopped.

“We’re going to have additional people out like we do normally this time of year,” Dean said. “We’ll be looking for drunk drivers. If people are going to drink they are going to need to have a designated driver. They don’t need to be behind the wheel.”

Last year, troopers and other law enforcement agencies from across the state investigated traffic crashes that resulted in the deaths of 14 people, including five pedestrians, during the 78-hour New Year’s travel period. At least four of those deaths involved alcohol, and at least five vehicle occupants were not using seat belts.