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Law enforcement saturation patrols aim to keep impaired drivers off road

Hagerstown police chief: 'New Year's Eve is always, unfortunately, a time for excessive drinking'

December 29, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore and Maryland State Police Lt. Tom Woodward said troopers and deputies will carry out saturation patrols on New Year's Eve to keep impaired drivers off the road.
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Law-enforcement agencies and local cab companies will be out in force on New Year's Eve to make sure Washington County's roadways stay as safe as possible.

Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore and Maryland State Police Lt. Tom Woodward said troopers and deputies will carry out saturation patrols to keep impaired drivers off the road.

"It certainly is a time that gives us concern," Woodward said, noting troopers will start the saturation patrols this evening and finish Monday morning. "Anytime someone is going to be celebrating and consuming alcoholic beverages, they do need to be careful and plan ahead. Other drivers on the road need to be cognizant of traffic. It may be the other guy who's had too much and is impaired."

Neither Woodward, Mullendore nor Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said they plan to set up sobriety checkpoints. But officers will show a heavy presence on well-traveled roads.

Mullendore said that although driving-under-the-influence cases spike on New Year's Eve, there have been no recent fatalities in the county on that night.

He said people should avoid driving if they've had too much to drink and stay in a motel if they're unable to drive home.

"At the very least, they should have a designated driver," Mullendore said.

Smith said additional officers will be working on New Year's Eve to respond to alcohol-related incidents.

"We have a lot of people working on New Year's Eve, but we use them to come out on calls" instead of saturation patrols, Smith said. "New Year's Eve is always, unfortunately, a time for excessive drinking."

Mike Deming, owner of Downtown Taxi and A-1 Sedan Transportation in Hagerstown, said his companies will have 25 vehicles on the road on New Year's Eve.

"We're trying to organize drivers now," Deming said Thursday. "We expect it to be busy all day."

He said his transportation businesses aren't offering any deals except to people who party on New Year's Eve at AVA, a nightclub that Deming owns at 28 S. Potomac St. In that case, customers will get up to a $5 discount depending on how far they need to travel, he said.

To ensure people get a ride on one of the busiest cab nights of the year, Deming said customers should call in advance and allow drivers a 25-to 30-minute window to arrive.

 "The longer the lead time they can give us, the better," he said.

Denise Miller, co-owner of Miller transportation in Hagerstown, said her company can field up to 40 vehicles if all of her drivers want to work on New Year's Eve.

Miller Transportation isn't offering any specials, and charges between $3 to $100 for a ride, Miller said.

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