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Stepped-up DWI enforcement this weekend

By Hugh Fisher
hfisher@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Local law enforcement and the N.C. State Highway Patrol will be making sure people party safely New Year’s Eve.
And the best advice is to make plans now — as in, today — for getting home safely in the wee hours of 2012.
AAA Carolinas expects to see more drivers on the road this year due to good weather and because New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday.
Capt. Melonie Thompson, who leads the Salisbury Police Department’s traffic division, said officers are being more vigilant this weekend.
Local police, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and the highway patrol will all step up enforcement efforts this weekend.
Those may include random checkpoints and increased officer presence along Interstate 85 and other highways, as well as rural roads.
Thompson said the most dangerous times to be on the road are between midnight and 3 a.m. as people leave parties.
On New Year’s 2011, “we had four arrests for DWI between those hours,” Thompson said.
The sad truth is, there are likely many more who drive drunk and who manage to avoid detection.
She advises those who plan to party to make arrangements in advance.
“Also, if people are going to parties, especially at bars, keep watch over your drinks,” Thompson said.
There has been an increase in the number of drinks spiked with drugs, including the so-called “date-rape drug.”
“We see that at party situations, especially at this time of year,” Thompson said.
No ‘Tipsy Tow’
Despite what you might have read on Facebook, AAA is not offering free cab rides or towing for drunk partygoers.
Tom Crosby, vice president of communication for AAA Carolinas, said messages being reposted on Facebook and elsewhere about a so-called “Tipsy Tow” service are not accurate.
“We offered a tow-to-go program last year,” Crosby said.
But that benefit was abused, he said.
“It was intended to be a benefit to those who unintentionally overindulged,” Crosby said.
Crosby said it became clear many had planned in advance to drive and drink, then get their cars towed home for free.
Instead, Crosby said people need to use common sense, and take responsibility for their own safety.
Many bars will call a cab for patrons who drink too much.
But the best way to be sure of safety is to choose a designated driver, or to find a hotel or friend’s house at which to sleep it off.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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