State troopers and police departments throughout the Coosa Valley are planning beefed-up patrols throughout New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to encourage safe driving.
“Like every year, we will do increased patrols for intoxicated drivers, including traffic enforcement and DUI checkpoints on secondary roads, so it shouldn’t be a problem with normal traffic,” said Pell City Police Chief Greg Turley.
“We definitely ask that people not drink and drive. Use a designated driver or a taxi service. There are a lot of different programs out there to take advantage of. Some services offer free tows to get you home safe. So just get a plan together to make sure you don’t drink and drive.”
Turley continued, “There will be plenty of increased patrols through state, county and local police. We not only see increased intoxicated drivers but also drivers with suspended and revoked licenses who are traveling or trying to get to parties or whatever it may be, so we pay close attention to that also. We’ll be out in force looking for those individuals and trying to make sure everybody has a fun, safe, happy New Year.”
In Childersburg, Police Chief Doug Wesson said motorists can expect to see road blocks and extra patrols, and they’ll be taking a hard line on drunk drivers.
“We won’t take them home. We’ll take them to jail,” he said. “We want to deter drinking and driving.”
Though efforts to reduce holiday highway problems have been ongoing for years, “This is not a thing of the past,” Wesson said. “We get a lot of repeat customers.”
In Sylacauga, Police Capt. Kelley Johnson said no checkpoints are scheduled, but motorists should be warned that they can put one together quickly.
“That will be up to our supervisors if we start seeing some wrecks or speeders or drunk drivers. We will have a full shift that night, and we’re not expecting anything our normal shift couldn’t handle.”
Johnson continued, “Don’t drink and drive. Obey the speed limits and traffic laws and pay attention to other drivers on the road. If you have a friend or family member who has been drinking and you can’t get the car keys away from them, we would ask that you call us if that person if getting on the highway so we can catch them before they cause an accident.”
State troopers will be using extra patrols, sobriety checkpoints, line patrols and LIDAR speed detection, according to a Department of Public Safety press release.
“It’s one of the busiest and most exciting times of the year, and that seasonal hustle and bustle is evident on the state’s roadways,” DPS Director Col. Hugh B. McCall said in the release. “We all must make safety a priority – no matter how rushed we feel.”
Troopers will be working overtime with grant funding from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and the Alabama Department of Transportation.
“If your seasonal celebrations will include alcohol, please take a moment to designate a non-drinking driver or to make other arrangements to make sure that you – and others on the road – arrive safely to your destination,” McCall said.
Troopers will be available to assist motorists, and can be reached via cell phone at *HP (*47), which will direct calls to the nearest Highway Patrol post.
In addition to traffic, law enforcement authorities are also gearing up for fireworks and possible gunshots.
“I know people are going to be shooting fireworks, and there’s not an ordinance against that,” Sylacauga Police Department’s Johnson said. “We do expect to answer a lot of calls about possible shots fired that may or may not be fireworks. We know we’re going to get those calls, and feel free to call us. We would prefer to be called so we can get some officers in the area to determine if it was fireworks or something else.”
In Pell City, “We also ask people not to discharge firearms during that period,” Turley said.
“We’re already getting some calls about that.”
Contact Emily McLain at firstname.lastname@example.org and Bill Kimber at email@example.com