New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, and many are making plans for a night of celebration with friends and loved ones.
Amidst all the holiday excitement, one plan is easy to overlook — making sure you have a sober ride when the party is over.
“Law enforcement will be out full force over the entire holiday weekend,” said Hamlet Police Chief John Haywood. “We’ll have extra officers on patrol doing seat belt and alcohol checks, starting early and working throughout the night.”
Haywood said that law enforcement agencies combine efforts to promote safe driving throughout the county during the holidays.
“We will be setting up check points in Richmond County over the holiday weekend,” said N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Travis Harper.
“I think some people have the misconception that we want to arrest people, but that isn’t the case,” said Haywood. “We want to deter drinking and driving. If people know that we’re going to be working extra hard over the New Year’s holiday, then maybe that will encourage them to either get a designated driver, stay in one location or just not drink at all.”
Some drivers say they’ll simply refuse to take a breathalyzer if asked by law enforcement.
“Drivers who refuse to submit to a breath test run the risk of possibly losing their license for up to two years, pending the court’s decision,” said Haywood.
Other drivers believe tactics like drinking clear liquor, which is thought to have less of an odor, chewing gum or riding with windows rolled down will dilute the smell of alcohol — lessening the chance that an officer will suspect that they’ve been drinking.
“Law enforcement officials are trained to look for other signs that would indicate a driver is impaired,” said Haywood. “There are physical and mental impairments that signal when a person has been drinking. Flushed face, red eyes, unsteady movements, slow responses and confusion are examples of some of the other things we look for.”
Drinking and driving puts you, your passengers and others on the road at risk for serious injury or death, say lawmen.
“Along with the danger of hurting someone while driving under the influence comes the risk of getting into serious trouble for something that can be easily avoided,” said Haywood. “If you get caught driving while impaired, you’re setting yourself up for paying a lot of fines, penalties and court costs, along with the hassle of dealing with the court case, the risk of losing your job and the embarrassment the ordeal can create for you and your family. It’s just not worth it, and it’s so much cheaper in the long run to just call a cab.”
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.