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DCSO: Don’t drink and drive over holidays

by Merrie Leininger

With two three-day holiday weekends coming up, the people who patrol the county’s roads and highways have simple advice to keep motorists safe and out of trouble:

Don’t drink and drive.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Lance Modispacher warned Christmas and New Year’s revelers to take any precautions necessary not to drive drunk.

He said even though the DCSO is kept busy with DUIs all the time, drunk drivers cause a lot of loss especially at this time of year.

“There are a staggering amount of injuries and property damage directly related to alcohol. It’s pretty needless,” he said.

Modispacher advised people going to parties make arrangements for a ride home ahead of time, even if you don’t plan on drinking a lot.

“We find a lot of people that go to parties think ‘I’ll just have a couple drinks and I’ll be OK,’ but pretty soon, two turns into five and you don’t realize it; people are handing you glasses and toasting the holiday and then you need to get home,” Modispacher said. “We go to parties and have fun, too, but we have to be responsible.”

Groups of friends can designate a driver or even call a taxi.

“I think our encouragement to community residents and visitors, would be if they are going to the parties is to have a designated driver. It is one of the finest ideas to come out of Mothers Against Drunk Driving,” he said. “We want to encourage people to use good judgment. Call a taxi to take you home and leave your car there. Or make arrangements with friends, cause there’s lots of people that don’t drink.”

n Officers on duty. Modispacher said the sheriff’s department is at a “heightened awareness” during the holidays and will have more officers on duty.

“We make sure there are plenty of guys to help,” he said. “I’ll be working patrol Christmas Eve.”

This time of year, domestic violence increases, when family comes in and alcohol gets mixed in, Modispacher said.

Because of that, Sheriff Ron Pierini said each patrol car will carry two officers on certain nights so only one patrol car will have to respond to regular calls.

“There are only our traffic officers, but everyone will be working 12-hour shifts,” Pierini said. “For three days we will be working a lot of extra hours.”

n Precautions. Modispacher said, if the situation becomes really dire, the sheriff’s department will help those who become stranded.

“Call us other than jumping in the car and taking a chance. We’ll get you home somehow.” Modispacher said. “Our intention is to get everyone home safely.”

He warned people that sleeping or sitting in the car could still get you in trouble if you are intoxicated.

“If you have the immediate ability (to drive), if you’re sitting in car with the car running because it’s cold or just with the keys in the ignition, you can be in trouble pretty quick. We don’t want you in the car at all.”

Pierini also said a lot of business, especially casinos, will help people find a safe way home rather than let a drunk person drive.

n “We’ll be the Grinch.” Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Tony Almaraz said the agency doesn’t plan any additional road checkpoints over the two 3-day holiday weekends, but will step up regular patrols.

“We’re stepping up our enforcement on drunk drivers,” Almaraz said. “Because it is a festive time of year, there is a lot of back and forth, going to grandma’s house, or a friend’s for Christmas. Usually, there is some alcohol consumption. We are targeting that, making sure that alcohol doesn’t get on the highways,” he said.

“We’ll be kind of like the Grinch of Christmas for that,” he said.

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