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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Cops resolve to watch out for drivers who are drinking

Monday, December 31, 2001

Officer Tim Bartlett, left, and Sgt. Steve Palmer of Sikeston DPS look over the results of a breathalizer test.
SIKESTON - Those under the influence of alcohol New Year's Eve should be advised: They will be looking for you. "I want the public to know we're watching," said Sgt. Steve Palmer of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety.

DPS will not only have some additional officers on the road, but will also have extra people on duty at the firehouses, according to Palmer.

Palmer said it is standard practice to increase fire staff on certain holidays such as Halloween and Independence Day due to the increase in calls but it also "relieves patrol officers from having to be tied up at a fire scene so they can take care of their primary responsibilities on the street."

For those who choose to drink, Palmer stressed the importance of the responsible use of alcohol during the holiday season. "Use a lot of common sense," said Palmer. "Use a taxi service or a designated driver."

If you plan to drink while you are out, also have a plan on a place to stay or how to get home without getting behind the wheel.

Those hosting parties are advised to do their part by making sure guests who have been drinking have a way home other than driving themselves. "Don't be afraid to take away the keys from a loved one who's had too much to drink," said Palmer. Anyone having a problem stopping someone from getting behind the wheel can always call the DPS for assistance, he added.

Sgt. Brent Davis of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said it will be business as usual for the patrol. New Year's Eve is widely celebrated, but it is not a big day for traveling, Davis said.

"There will probably be a lot of DWI arrests," he predicted. He declined, however, to guess at a number. "It just varies so greatly. I've arrested as many as five drunks in one night and then not get another drunk for two weeks."

Thirty-one people were arrested last year on New Year's Eve in the Troop E area for driving while intoxicated, according to Davis. There were no fatal accidents, but nine people were injured in the 22 accidents reported.

"If you're going to be at a party where there's drinking involved, know we are going to be out there looking for intoxicated drivers," said Davis. "Even if you don't have an accident, think about the monetary risk."

In addition to the fine, court costs and lawyer fees for a DWI, the total cost could eventually be thousands of dollars after a few years due to increased insurance rates, according to Davis.

Palmer said there are plans for DPS to step up traffic enforcement efforts for alcohol related offenses and increase awareness of the dangers of driving while under the influence in 2002.

Sikeston residents can expect to see sobriety checkpoints on the street and programs in conjunction with D.A.R.E. instructors in the schools during the coming year.

The program will target younger drivers who "haven't had the time to build up the tolerance to alcohol," according to Palmer, as well as to "interdict before their problem becomes serious."

Palmer said the state will make grants available to fund the efforts which are expected to be a "joint venture with the highway patrol and possibly some other resources."

DPS officials also anticipate the use of a state "BAT Van" equipped with two breathalizer stations, holding cells for offenders and a video camera.