Law enforcement increases NYE patrols

OKLAHOMA CITY–We’re just hours away from ringing in the New Year and many Oklahomans will be sharing a toast at midnight with a beverage, or two.

But the metro will be blanketed with law enforcement officers looking for those who have too much to drink and then try to drive.

John Hunsucker, a local DUI attorney, reminds party goers that it’s not the number of drinks you’ve had, it’s the alcoholic content of those drinks.

“It can be expensive. It can be life ending,” he said Monday.  “It can change your entire circumstance.”

Hunsucker points out Oklahoma’s DUI laws have become tougher within the past few years.

One example; picking up your child after a party.

“You feel fine.  You’re maybe at a .08 or .09 [blood alcohol level], which is barely over the limit,” Hunsucker explained.  “You’re driving home, you pick up your child at the babysitter, you get pulled over for a tag light out and now you have a felony child endangerment charge.”

Hunsucker said if you have a .06 or .07 blood alcohol level in Oklahoma, which is below the DUI limit of .08, you could still be charged with Driving While Impaired.

Hunsucker said several factors can also affect the accuracy of a breath test, like having heartburn, diabetes and taking certain medications.

He said even having a fever can alter an accurate reading.

A first-time DUI could cost you up to $12,000 before it’s over.

He said, “It’s not a good way to start and it could be avoided simply by Tipsy Tow or spending a $100 on a cab.”

The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department wants people to have a blast on New Year’s Eve.

Mark Myers, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Co. Sheriff’s Dept., said, “The only thing we ask is, have a great time, just have a plan.”

Myers said if you drink and drive and don’t have a plan to get home safely, deputies, police officers and OHP troopers will be out in full force.

New Year’s Eve 2011, there were 31 injuries in alcohol-related crashes and one fatality, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.

They don’t call DUI related crashes “accidents.”

“Because someone made the choice after drinking to get behind the wheel,” Myers said.  “It was something that they did on purpose.  An accident is not done on purpose.”

That AAA Tipsy Tow service is free if you’ve had too much to drink.

Myers said if they can save just one person’s life tonight with their increased patrols, the effort is worth it.