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Law looking to stamp out New Year DUIs

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POSTED: December 31, 2008 10:17 a.m.
Photo by Lauren Hunsberger/

Deputies cars are lined up outside of the Liberty County jail.

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New Year’s Eve is synonymous with midnight kisses, resolutions, and for many, champagne and cocktails.
Infamous for being America’s biggest party night, New Year’s is a peak time for drunken driving fatalities and arrests. Hinesville Police Department Chief George Stagmeier said his force is gearing up for the holiday in an effort to keep everyone as safe as possible.
“We’ll have extra patrol cars and additional officers working during New Year’s Eve and early New Year’s Day,” Stagmeier said. “We want to keep the streets safe.”
Stagmeier said his officers will patrol the streets for all kinds of suspicious activity, particularly for signs of intoxicated drivers.
“We will be targeting DUIs,” he said. “I can’t say definitely, but there might be roadblocks. That’s a strong possibility.”
Traditionally, the Hinesville area does not have a reputation for a severe increase in DUIs during New Year’s, according to Stagmeier.
“This area’s pretty good,” he said. “We don’t see a large increase in DUIs, but there is a big traffic increase late in the evening as people start going from one spot to another.”
Stagmeier and his officers won’t be the only eyes watching area New Year’s commuters. Those who make the drive to Savannah will be the focus of some state troopers.
Lt. Paul Cosper, a spokesperson for the Georgia State Patrol, said his organization will have officers stationed from state border to border, including state highways leading to Savannah.
“What we’re telling everybody is to plan their trip,” he said. “Check the weather, ride with a designated driver. If you’re planning on drinking somewhere, make arrangements to stay. A lot of hotels that are having parties are offering package deals, and that’s pretty smart.”
GSP predicts that 20 people will die on Georgia roads between 6 tonight and the end of Sunday night.
According to the GSP, 24 people were killed in traffic crashes across Georgia during the 102-hour Christmas holiday travel. The holiday period began Christmas Eve at 6 p.m. and ended at midnight Sunday, Dec. 28.
“Nobody thinks, ‘I’m going to go out and drink and kill someone tonight,’ but it happens,” he said.
Although both the Hinesville Police Department and the Georgia State Patrol will increase the number of patrol cars on the streets and highways today through Sunday, Cosper said the best way to prevent an accident is common sense.
“We can only do so much; people need to take it upon themselves to be smart,” he said.
Part of being smart is being cautious of your surroundings. Stagmeier said if anyone suspects those around them are driving under the influence, they should call 911 immediately and report them.
 

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