While many will toast the New Year this weekend with a fizzy libation in hand, Liberty County law enforcement officers will dedicate their weekend to ensuring area residents safely enjoy their bowl games and black-eyed peas.
The Hinesville Police Department and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office will be out in full force to patrol the streets this weekend, and both are reminding the public that they have zero tolerance for driving under the influence. Motorists caught driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or higher will be arrested in accordance with the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.
Within Hinesville city limits, Police Chief George Stagmeier said, officers will be using selective patrolling to keep a close watch on certain areas.
“We look at the data and where we’re having accidents and where we’re having problems,” he said.
Hinesville police respond to an average of 110 accidents — including parking-lot mishaps — each month, he said. Some months have higher numbers, about 130, while slower months may only have about 80 to 90.
Stagmeier and his staff have identified two emerging trends around the holidays. The first is that there’s more parking-lot congestion and fender-benders, and the second is that as the holidays approach, the roads become emptier — a trend he attributes to people either leaving town or staying in to maximize their time with family and friends.
On New Year’s Eve, the number of traffic incidents remains fairly consistent with the rest of the year, though officers do notice increased traffic around certain hot spots, Stagmeier said. Though he did not want to specify whether HPD would set up any DUI checkpoints this year, he said it is a possibility.
“We just want everybody to be safe, and that’s what we’re looking at by being out there and being visible,” the chief said.
As for the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Capt. David Edwards said he does not have specific numbers to show holiday traffic trends, but he believes the county sees more incidents than usual due to travel on the county roads and Interstate 95.
Like HPD, the LCSO also will be fully staffed, and Edwards said they are likely to conduct periodic DUI checks.
The best way to avoid unnecessary legal issues — and to ensure a safe arrival — is to plan ahead, Edwards said. He urges travelers to make arrangements for cabs, designated drivers or overnight stays before the party starts.
“Buckle up, drive safely, and arrive where you’re supposed to go,” he said.