Flickr User, buzybee
Flickr User, buzybee

The Division of Highway Traffic Safety and Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control today urged those who plan to drink on New Year’s Eve to exercise caution during their celebrations. 

“We want drivers, passengers, pedestrians and revelers alike to be safe before, during and after the revelry,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky. “Plan to go out with a designated driver or take mass transit or a taxi. If you can, spend the night, rather than getting behind the wheel. If you drink and plan to walk home, have a friend or family member escort you home.”

Poedubicky and Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael Halfacre both noted the importance of having a designated driver if you drink. Both divisions have partnered with the HERO Campaign, which has become a national model for preventing drunk driving by encouraging individuals to become designated drivers.

“Unfortunately, the holidays are a prime time for impaired drivers,” said Poedubicky said.  “But drinking and driving is a choice, and we wanted to be out in force to show zero tolerance for those that choose to put their lives and the lives of innocent victims on the line.”

Poedubicky said local law enforcement agencies will be on the roads this weekend continuing to crack down on drunk drivers as part of the state’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” mobilization. The campaign has provided federal grants of $4,400 to 95 law enforcement agencies throughout the state to implement the impaired driving enforcement initiative. Officers will be conducting saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints, looking for motorists who may be driving while intoxicated. In the corresponding winter campaign of 2011, the crackdowns resulted in 1,877 Driving While Intoxicated arrests.

There were nine motor vehicle fatalities last year during the New Year’s Eve holiday period (Dec. 30 to Jan 3.) and alcohol and drugs were a factor in four of those deaths.

Halfacre added that under the state’s alcoholic beverage control laws, liquor licensees cannot serve or sell alcohol to any person actually or apparently intoxicated. 

“There are potentially serious consequences that can result from the over-consumption of alcohol. Bars and restaurants must ensure responsible service to patrons and by doing so can help in our mutual efforts to prevent drunk driving.”

The Division of Highway Traffic Safety offers the following road safety tips to keep pedestrians safe on New Year’s Eve:

For Pedestrians:

  • ·         Cross at intersections only
  • ·         Never cross between parked cars
  • ·         Before crossing, look left, right and left again, and listen for traffic
  • ·         If there is no sidewalk available, walk as far off the roadway as possible on the side of the road, facing oncoming traffic
  • ·         Obey all traffic signs and signals

Tips for Motorists:

  • Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Failure to do so carries a $200 fine, plus court fees and a two-point penalty
  • Watch for pedestrians when turning on red.
  • Obey posted speed limits
  • Do not block or park in crosswalks.
  • Keep your windshield clean (inside and out) for maximum visibility.
  • Be alert for pedestrians at all times.

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