by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND--It's like the saying goes, when it comes to a DWI, you can't afford it. After all the fees and fines are added in, getting caught behind the wheel after a New Year's Eve party could cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
According to Trooper John Barton with the Texas Department of Public Safety, "This weekend, being New Year's, we feel there's going to be a lot of people out celebrating the new year. Our main emphasis and target is going to be those DWI's."
Law enforcement officers on all levels are getting ready for what may be one of the busiest nights of the year. Trooper Barton says, try as they might, drunk drivers won't be able to hide from their patrols.
"We just have those beefed up patrols in several of those surrounding counties. Again, that's their primary deal, to make sure they can look at those vehicles and get those intoxicated drivers off the roads. We're also aware that people think they can get home by taking side roads. So, we emphasize looking for those vehicles on those side roads and county roads," Barton explained.
It doesn't matter if you've had two drinks or 10. Over the limit, is over the limit. And when it comes to underage drinkers, zero means zero.
"Zero tolerance, they shouldn't have any alcohol what so ever," Barton emphasized.
The best way to avoid starting the new year in a drunk tank, get a designated driver. If you can't do that, call a cab.
Like law enforcement, New Year's Eve is the busiest night for companies like Midessa Transportation.
"Easily, double to triple what we handle on a usual Friday night or Saturday night or anything like that. You have a lot of people who never go out during the year or they very seldom go out. Everybody wants to go party on New Year's Eve," General Manager, Phil Draper, said.
Most times, people think they're okay to drive. In certain cases, special arrangements are made between the cab company and either the bars or police departments.
According to Draper, "We do get some police calls, where they need the people taken home. It varies. They may have gotten left by their friends or whatever and they just don't have the money to get home. We'll make sure people get home safely."
Trooper Barton says, nobody wants to put a damper on a celebration. They just want people to think before they drink.
"We don't want you to get out there and drink and drive and we don't, necessarily, want to ruin your day by sending you to jail," Barton said.
According to local police and DPS statistics, almost 50 percent of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related. Law enforcement, taxi cab companies and everyone agree, if you plan on drinking to bring in the new year, don't plan on driving yourself home.