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Police patrols to increase on New Year's Eve

December 30, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION |

It’s New  Year’s Eve, marking a tradition of merriment and maybe a drink or two to usher in the new year.

But overdoing alcohol can land motorists in trouble, and new data from a travel advocacy group suggests that, despite social disapproval of drunken driving, the problem persists.
 The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that one in 10 drivers reported having driven when they thought that their alcohol level might have been close to or possibly over the legal limit within the past 12 months, according to a news release from the automobile association.
The data also shows that more than half of those drivers reported having done that more than once within the past 12 months, the release said.
Also, a new analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data from 2000 to 2009 found that an average of 80 people a year are killed in alcohol-related crashes on New Year’s Day—almost 2 1/2 times as many as on the same day of the week in other weeks around New Year’s, the release said.
Despite the habits and trends identified by AAA, a Maryland State Police spokesman said he has observed that New Year’s Eve is one of the times that people usually take extra care in how they celebrate.
Sgt. K.D. Scheer of the Washington County barrack said he has found that many people use designated drivers while they are drinking on New Year’s Eve.
“We still lock up our share of intoxicated drivers,” Scheer said.
Scheer said the local barrack will be increasing patrols on New Year’s Eve to watch for drunken drivers.
The Hagerstown Police Department will also have more officers out tonight, Sgt. David Long said.
Despite the price of gas topping $3 a gallon, more Marylanders are expected to travel during the New Year’s holiday, according to AAA. Christmas travel was also included in that trend, the association said.
More than 1.8 million Marylanders are expected to take a trip at least 50 miles away from home for the year-end holiday, a nearly 4 percent increase over 2009, the association said.
AAA attributed the trend to the fact that the travel industry is recovering faster than the broader economy.

As for the weather Friday night, it appears revelers will not have to deal with any precipitation. The National Weather Service forecast calls for mostly cloudy conditions with a low around 36 degrees.
Friday night’s celebrations include entertainment by The Amish Outlaws at the Hager Hall Conference and Event Center on Dual Highway. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the cost is $30 per person or $50 per couple. The offering includes an hors d’oeuvres station, dessert station and a champagne toast.
Next to the conference center at Cancun Cantina West, Dean Crawford will entertain the crowd with an hors de oeuvres, dessert and champagne toast package that is $25 per person, or $40 a couple.
At the Heritage Academy on Walnut Point Road, the traditional Secrest Memorial Sing will get under way Friday at 7 p.m., with performances from groups like Naomi & the Segos.
Xtreme Magic Diva Allstarz will host a New Year’s Eve party for ages 5 to 18. The party includes a dinner and dance at 920 W. Washington St., and children may stay overnight. The cost is $25.

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