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OHP, Lawton police to up patrols on New Year's Eve

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LAWTON Okla_ New Year's Eve is already a notoriously dangerous night to drive, and now you can add liquor store sales being at an all time high, making for a lethal combination.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers prepare to be out in full force Monday night, along with Lawton police, making sure those who aren't fit to be hitting the roadways find themselves in jail. This way, they aren't a threat to anyone trying to ring in the New Year responsibly. 

People across the world are going to be hitting the liquor store before the New Year's Eve festivities begin, and Southwest Oklahoma is no exception.

J.P. Richard, a Lawton liquor store owner said New Year's Eve is his biggest sales day of the year. He only hopes that their drive home is the last time they'll be behind the wheel for the rest of the evening.

"Everybody always waits until the last minute," Richard said. "We were hoping this year, they'd start coming on Friday and Saturday since we're closed on Sunday's, but that wasn't the case. So I'm afraid by 6:00 this evening, we're going to be overwhelmed."

While Richard can't do anything to protect his customers once they leave the store with their purchases, State Trooper Hoover can. He said on a night like tonight, the OHP will be looking for the warning signs of an unfit driver.

"The signs include drivers changing lanes unsafely, exceeding the speed limit, driving less than the speed limit, varying their speeds, and weaving lane to lane."

Trooper Hoover said a ticket, injury, or fatality is no way to ring in 2013.

"The highway patrol has been keeping accident statistics for the holiday weekend since the 28th of December," Hoover said. "To date, we've had 7 fatality accidents in the state."

Two of those seven were alcohol related. Trooper Hoover said these stats are better than last year, but any fatality caused by a drunk driver is too many.

"We like to think that people are actually doing the right thing and staying at home," Hoover said. "We hope they are finding a designated driver, taking a taxi, or finding some other means besides drinking and driving."

Trooper Hoover said there will be no exceptions made tonight. If you are caught driving under the influence, you will be taken to jail. Remember, the average cost of a DUI is over $1,000, so please welcome 2013 safely and responsibly.

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