Make plans to get home safely if you plan to imbibe |

Make plans to get home safely if you plan to imbibe

by Merrie Leininger

Many people are planning to tie one on as part of their New Year celebrations, but the party-goers also need to plan on a safe way to get home, said Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Lance Modispacher.

Despite the expected hordes of revelers at the casino core at Stateline, Modispacher said neither the sheriff’s office nor the Nevada Highway Patrol will forget about the Carson Valley on New Year’s Eve and will be out in force.

About 10 DCSO officers will be patrolling, along with the extra 15-20 officers the NHP is providing the area for the whole weekend, he said.

“There’s going to be a high presence and there’s no sense in starting off the New Year on the wrong foot or in the wrong bracelets,” Modispacher said. “Our officers know people are out celebrating. It’s their job to make sure they get home in a safe manner. You will end up spending the night with us (if you drink and drive).”

– Conviction. He said one night in jail is not the only thing drunk drivers have to worry about.

“The ripple effect down the road is devastating on people. It may be three years down the road and your insurance company will still be charging you thousands, even for the first-time DUI. It’s just so much smarter to plan ahead,”he said.

Modispacher said a first DUI offense is a misdemeanor and will cost the person $1,500 to bail out of jail. In addition, their car will likely be towed.

If found guilty in East Fork Justice Court, the drunk driver will be sentenced to 48 hours in jail, a $400 fine, plus attorney’s fees and they will also have to attend a Victim’s Impact Panel and DUI School in Carson City. The Department of Motor Vehicles will revoke the driver’s license for 90 days and once it is returned, drivers must show proof of car insurance every month.

The second DUI conviction results in a mandatory 10 days in jail and a $750 fine, in addition to the other conditions placed on first-time offenders. Second-time offenders will lose their license for one year, he said.

An additional DUI conviction is a felony and the person will be sentenced in Douglas County District Court to 1-6 years in state prison and a fine of $2,000-$5,000. The felon will lose his driver’s license for three years.

Modispacher said the best thing people can do for themselves is to decide long before they begin drinking how they are going to get home.

“They need to take a taxi, call a sober friend or have a designated driver,” he said. “And that’s not the least drunk person in the party; that’s the person who’s had none, so he can make the right decisions.”

Modispacher said it is very common for intoxicated people to feel like they are capable of driving home, but if they are pulled over and have a .10 percent blood alcohol level or higher, they go to jail, however they feel.

“It is very common for intoxicated individuals to feel capable of driving. It’s better to not even have a vehicle or to give your keys to someone else prior to even starting your celebration,” he said. “Just because you’ve had a couple of cups of coffee doesn’t mean you are able to negotiate car home in a safe manner.”

– Where not to sleep it off. Modispacher also warned people about sleeping in their cars. Despite the fact it will be extremely cold, he said, if the person is in immediate control of the car, they can still be arrested.

“If they are sleeping in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition, they have the immediate physical ability to operate the vehicle,” he said.

Officers will be on the lookout for underage drunk drivers, Modispacher said.

“We’re extremely concerned about juveniles. Don’t go out and party hardy and forget about where the kids are going. The kids get in the mindset that they’ll drive home because they don’t want to tell people they’ve been drinking and get in trouble,” he said.

He also asked bar owners to help keep the streets safe.

“We want to encourage the proprietors of local watering holes to instruct their employees not to serve individuals who are obviously intoxicated, despite the scuffle it might cause,” Modispacher said.