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New Year’s Eve DUI patrols boosted

In the week leading up to Christmas weekend, at least 10 people were booked into the county jail for driving under the influence, and that number is expected to increase as the calendar winds down to the biggest celebratory holiday of the year — New Year’s Eve.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics showed that in 2008, 966 people lost their lives as a result of traffic accidents. Of those, 315 of those were alcohol-related.

Alabama Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Doris Teague said 10 of those motorists were Covington County residents. Of those, one confirmed death was directly related to alcohol use; five were not, and it is unknown if alcohol played a part in the remaining four deaths, she said.

And in light of back-to-back weekend holidays, local law enforcement is once again stepping up patrols to ensure motorist safety.

“Drunk driving is a major threat to public safety that claims thousands of lives every year,” said Chief Deputy David Anderson of the Covington County Sheriff’s Office. “Those deaths are preventable. Drinking and driving is dangerous and unacceptable. This is a reminder that this office is still enforcing the ‘Over the Limit; Under Arrest’ traffic initiative.

“We all know that New Year’s Eve is a huge celebratory event, where people want to relax and have a good time,” he said. “People just need to do it responsibly.”

Heavy “DUI patrols” will be conducted in areas throughout the county, he said.

Opp Police Chief Nickey Carnley said patrols will be conducted on U.S. Hwy. 84, as well as all of Opp’s city streets.

“Our officers will be out in full force during the upcoming holiday, especially at night and on the weekends, looking for the drunk drivers that put the rest of us at risk,” Carnley said.

“If you plan to drink, make sure you have a designated driver or make alternate plans that don’t include driving on any roadway,” he said.