New Year's Eve Safety

By: Summer Knowles
By: Summer Knowles

December 29, 2005

The new year is only a few days away, and a lot of people are gearing up for big celebrations. Local officials are giving advice about how to make sure those celebrations don't leave you in a jail cell.

"Well everybody wants to have a great time at New Year's and to start the new year off right, but the concern is that you just cannot mix drinking and driving," said Thomas von Hemert, a Criminal Justice Planner for the Thomas Jefferson Area Community Criminal Justice Board.

Sgt. Mike Farruggio with the Charlottesville Police Department agreed with von Hemert.

"We've got Christmas parties before Christmas, during Christmas, after Christmas, you have New Year parties, so because of that we have higher incidences where people that may be drinking or driving and that of course raises the possibility of being tempted to drink and drive," said Sgt. Farruggio.

Last year alone in the state of Virginia about 8,000 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes, more than 300 of whom were killed.

"Alcohol is a drug and that drug has a serious affect on your brain, and it will alter the way you rationalize and you make judgments and that judgment will impair how you drive," said von Hemert.

Local police say they will be on the lookout for drunk drivers New Year's Eve and suggest drivers keep one thing in mind.

"If you're caught drinking and driving, you're going to get arrested," said Farruggio.

Sgt. Farruggio says the police force is trained to look for indicators of impaired driving, in which case they will issue a ticket.

"The police officer is not going to cut you any slack whether you're a juvenile or whether you're an adult, you're going to get yourself arrested, you're going to spend the night in jail and you're going to incur some penalties that will affect you for the next year, and even longer," he explained.

A DUI arrest and conviction can be a costly mistake. You can lose your driver's license or even the right to vote, not to mention the costs of things like posting bail and hiring an attorney.

"A bottle of wine or champagne or beer could cost you somewhere between $5 and $20, but in reality that $5 or $20 could really add up to $5,000 to $20,000 with just one DUI."

As a reminder, the Chandler Law Group is sponsoring a safe ride home program.

All residents have to do is call Yellow Cab of Charlottesville, mention the program or the Chandler Law Group, and they'll be given a ride home within a ten mile radius of the city.

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