Avoid party crashes

State and local law enforcement efforts ramped up for New Year's Eve

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Canadian County Sheriff Chris West

By Robert Medley

Managing Editor

State and local law officers will be on extra patrol Friday for New Year’s Eve.

Drunk drivers will be targeted.

Canadian County Sheriff Chris West said, “I just wanna encourage everybody to not drink and drive and make sure they buckle up. We’re looking forward to a very safe and uneventful New Year’s.”

West said drivers should expect “roving checkpoints” with law officers countywide.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s ENDUI team will partner with Canadian County law enforcement as part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over mobilization, according to an OHP news release.

Similar efforts will take place across the United States this holiday weekend, OHP reports.

Law officers in Piedmont, Yukon and Okarche hope they are not busy, but say they are ready.

And one Canadian County chief can be reached by anyone who needs a ride home in town limits, no questions asked.

There have been recent DUI arrests in Okarche, Police Chief Forrest Smith reports.

“Nowadays it’s so easy to find a ride or Uber. Plan ahead for your night out and have a backup plan in case something happens, and you shouldn’t be on the roadway,” Smith said.

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Smith said there were two DUI arrests during the week of Christmas in Okarche. One arrest was made that involved a serious accident.

“There absolutely is no excuse to ever get behind the wheel intoxicated. We will continue a no tolerance for those who choose to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel.”

Smith said law officers encourage those who need a ride within town limits to call the police department for a ride.

“We will get them home safely with no questions asked. In my career, I have knocked on too many doors to provide devastating news to loved ones. So please make the right choice,” Smith said.

Smith said he can be reached by phone and on the Okarche Police Facebook page by anyone who needs a ride in Okarche New Year’s Eve.

Piedmont Police Chief Scott Singer said checkpoints are common during the holidays.

“Law enforcement agencies use high-visibility patrols, checkpoints and saturation enforcement efforts to help to curb those choosing to drive while impaired. Locally, we’ll be following the lead of the national effort to attempt to stop deadly driving practices this year. So, be watching for us, because we’re certainly watching for you. And, while we don’t expect to address all those choosing to drive unwisely, we will get our share,” Singer wrote in his weekly column in The Piedmont-Surrey Gazette.

OHP reports that additional deputies, troopers, and officers will be on duty across the state looking for impaired drivers.

Last year, 2020, during the New Year’s Eve holiday period, there were 149 crashes in Oklahoma. Two of those crashes were fatalities resulting in the deaths of two people. Of those 149 crashes, at least 27 of them were alcohol and drug-related. More than 18% of New Year’s Eve crashes in 2020 involved a potentially impaired driver, OHP reports.

Sobriety checkpoints will be found at locations across central Oklahoma, OHP reports.

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