By Sarah Snyder
LEA COUNTY, NEW MEXICO - To drive or not to drive? It's a choice that's putting a growing number of people in jail as the number of DWI arrests in Lea County continues to soar.
"We just really need to do something about the amount of people in Hobbs that get behind the wheel when they're impaired," Officer Mike Stone with the Hobbs Police Department, said.
Since 2005, DWI arrests have gone up almost 100% landing more folks behind bars, than ever before.
"In the past year, we've seen a significant increase in DWI arrests," Stone said. "We're up to 259, and we haven't even hit the holiday season where we'll get a lot more DWI's."
But that's not all, DWI related crashes are also up 100% just since last year.
"If they would just think twice before they get in the vehicle, then we could cut down on the number of automobile crashes," Stone said.
The Hobbs Police Department is sending more officers out on the streets. Plus, they're using checkpoints pinpointing specific areas to look for irregular driving behavior.
"Sometimes we'll get 2, 3, 4 in one night," Officer Stone, said. "Also, during the holidays we'll have extra officers out looking for impaired drivers."
Police say they're arresting more drivers, because they've taken in new information.
"I really think that the increase is due to our officer's training," Officer Stone said. "They're training them to identify drivers that are intoxicated more so than in the past."
But one Lea County organization is committed to keep that from ever happening. "Safe Ride" is a group of drivers who offer a ride home to people over the legal limit.
"We've had a lot of DWI's lately," Nindi Honeyman, with the Hobbs DWI Program, said. "A lot of younger people are getting DWI's also, so hopefully by providing this service to the community, we're able to elliminate some of the crashes."