The Edmond Sun

December 28, 2012

Metro cops 'TEAM' up for New Year's Eve patrol

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — During last year’s New Year’s Eve holiday period, six people died in six crashes across Oklahoma; 219 were injured. Of these, one death and 31 injuries were in alcohol-related crashes.

New Year’s Eve 2012 is Monday. Once again during the holiday period — 7 p.m. Monday through the early-morning hours Tuesday — metro-area law enforcement agencies will be working together to crack down on impaired drivers.

In Edmond, as they routinely do, officers will be on the lookout for impaired drivers. Jenny Monroe, spokeswoman for the Edmond Police Department, said the agency will have extra officers on the streets  during the holiday period.

“Our officers have made an aggressive effort to decrease the number of traffic incidents caused by drunk drivers this year,” Monroe said. “We will continue that effort into the new year.”

Agencies taking part in a Traffic Enforcement Across the Metro mobilization include the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Oklahoma City Police Department, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office and the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) Commission.

Extra officers from these agencies will be patrolling Oklahoma City streets watching for impaired drivers and others who break the law, said OHP Lt. Garrett Vowell, statewide impaired driving enforcement coordinator. ABLE officers will be keeping a watchful eye on businesses that serve alcohol.

OHP Chief Kerry Pettingill said the multi-agency crackdown shows how serious law enforcement is about keeping impaired drivers off streets and highways.

“It is vital that we work together to keep people safe on a holiday when so many celebrations include alcohol or other intoxicants,” Pettingill said.

Sheriff John Whetsel said the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office looks forward to getting impaired drivers off the streets and putting them in jail during the mobilization. The agency’s jurisdiction includes the Deer Creek area.

“All too often we see the devastation caused by someone choosing to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking alcohol, and we have absolutely zero tolerance for these poor choices,” Whetsel said. “If you drink and drive you will spend your New Year’s celebration in jail.”

OCPD Capt. Dee Patt said the agency will have additional officers on the streets specifically targeting aggressive drivers as well as drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs.

“We don’t want to meet you by ‘accident’ and we don’t want to be the knock at your family’s door,” Patt said. “Help us by celebrating at home or by having a designated driver.”

The law enforcement agencies will also be cracking down on impaired drivers statewide, Pettingill said. The problem doesn’t end at the city limits sign, he said.

AAA Oklahoma spokesman Danial Karnes said preventing drinking and driving is a shared responsibility to save lives. Karnes said partygoers can do their part by following these simple tips:

• Always plan ahead to designate a non-drinking driver before any party or celebration begins, call a taxi, or take part in AAA’s Tipsy Tow Service.

• Never get behind the wheel of a car when you’ve been drinking alcohol — even after just one drink.

• Do not hesitate to take the keys from friends or family members who may be impaired.

• Be a responsible host in reminding guests to stay safe and always offer alcohol-free beverages.

• If you encounter an impaired driver on the road, keep a safe distance and ask a passenger to call 911 (or pull over to a safe location to make the call yourself).

If you feel you’ve had too much to drink and feel unsafe behind the wheel, AAA offers Tipsy Tow, a free confidential tow home from within a 15-mile radius at the point of pick up. The program runs through 2 a.m. Wednesday. The service is available in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton, Muskogee, Enid, Shawnee, Bartlesville and Tahlequah. For more information about Tipsy Tow, call 1-800-222-4357 or visit | 341-2121, ext. 108