Police patrol for drunk New Year's drivers

Police patrol for drunk New Year's drivers

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -As you plan your New Year's party or night out, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Lawton Police Department and countless other local law enforcement agencies are planning for what follows a night of drinking.

You can expect to see an overflow of police cars and highway patrol units on the road to make sure everyone gets home safely, and that impaired drivers are taken off the streets.

LPD and OHP say this is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road, because this holiday unfortunately brings the most intoxicated drivers the wheel. Both organizations have increased the amount of officers on patrol and say there will be no second chances or excuses once you are pulled over. In turn, leaving Comanche County Detention Center to deal with a lot of inmates.

The Comanche County Detention Center is now over capacity and jail administrator Bill Hobbs says it will stay that way throughout the weekend and will become even more crowded.

"It's going to be terrible. You are not going to like it. I have 315 inmates here and none of them like to be here. And these one-time party goers...it could cost you a lot of money. Plus you're going to be in a jail with other inmates. It's not going to be fun," Hobbs said.

Hobbs says once you're inside your cell, you'll be issued one blanket and a mat to deal with the cold.

"It's metal and cement, and that's basically it. It's cold and you will be issued one blanket, we don't give out pillows, you will get a mat," Hobbs said.

Hobbs says being arrested for a DUI or DWI can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 with fees, car towing and bail. But what that doesn't include is lawyer fees, which are an additional expense.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Drake Green explained what happens during the field sobriety test before you're taken in.

"It's called a nystagmus test. Basically, what we will do is take a pen hold it in front of their eyes, watch their eyes. Then, we will go from there to do what's called a 'walk and turn.' You will walk nine steps, turn around, walk back. After that, you will do the one leg stand," Trooper Green explained.

If you're found to be intoxicated, he says you will automatically go to jail and your car will be towed.

Lawton Police Captain Cliff Blasengame says there will be no side roads you can take to avoid the cops, because they will be everywhere.

"You will go to jail, so we encourage everybody to use Tipsy Toe and the local cab services if you can. If you are going to another party area other than your home, then you need to either have a designated driver or they need to have a way to get home without their vehicle," Capt. Blasengame said.

If you are convicted of a DUI or DWI, you will also have your license suspended for at least six months and have to pay additional charges to get it reinstated. You'll also have to pay for an ignition interlock device to be installed in your vehicle that you will have to blow in to in order to start your vehicle.

AAA's Tipsy Tow service started Wednesday and will run until 4:00 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 2.

"Naturally, it's always a good idea to plan ahead for a sober ride or to use a designated driver if you're out partying," said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. "But sometimes our plans change and we find ourselves unfit to drive with no alternative. That's when AAA's Tipsy Tow can save the day."

You you're out drinking during the holiday and need a safe way to get you and your vehicle home, call 1800-AAA-HELP (222-4357) and ask for Tipsy Tow. You, your vehicle and a passenger can get a free tow up to 15 miles from the pickup location.

"Drinking drivers frequently don't plan for other ways to get home because they are concerned about retrieving their vehicle the next day," said Mai. "They cite taxi costs and inconvenience as reasons they don't use alternate transportation. But taking a chance behind the wheel after drinking can produce deadly results. The statistics bear this out."

Tipsy Tow is available in Lawton, Ardmore, Shawnee, Oklahoma City metro area, Tulsa, Tahlequah, Bartlesville, Muskogee and Enid.

If you don't call Tipsy Tow or have a designated driver, you can also call cab to get home safely.

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