Be responsible on New Year’s Eve

Published 10:07 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

State and local law enforcement agencies are teaming up for aggressive enforcement of DUI laws in an effort to promote safer highways this New Year’s holiday.

Motorists statewide can expect extra patrols and sobriety checkpoints during the 102-hour travel period from 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31 through midnight Sunday, Jan. 4.

During the same period last year, 11 people died in Alabama traffic crashes, according to a press release by the Alabama Department of Public Safety. Alcohol was a factor in at least four of those deaths and six of the crash victims were not using seat belts.

The statistics offer a sobering reminder that alcohol and driving don’t mix.

“The holidays are a time of joy and celebration, yet impaired drivers pose a deadly threat during this joyous time,” said Col. J. Christopher Murphy, Public Safety Director. “If holiday celebrations include alcohol, I strongly advocate designating a nondrinking driver or making other plans to avoid the tragic consequences of impaired driving.”

Similar sobriety checkpoint campaigns were held during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Utilizing a fleet of trucks equipped with breath alcohol testing equipment — the Department of Public Safety calls them BAT-mobiles — troopers recorded 75 DUIs during the Thanksgiving period.

Troopers will also target other violations including speeding, following to closely and improper passing. A total of 2,200 traffic citations were written this Thanksgiving holiday.

First time DUI convictions in Alabama carry up to one year in jail and as much as $2,100 in fines, according to the Department of Public Safety.

There’s also a mandatory 90-day license suspension and required attendance at DUI school.

If your holiday plans include travel, please buckle up, obey all traffic laws and refrain from drinking and driving.