New Years Drunk Driving

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COLUMBIA - There will be no police checkpoints on the streets of Columbia New Years Eve, but the Columbia Police Department is taking extra precautions to cut down on drunk driving and increase overall safety.

"We don't let anybody take the day off, so we'll be at full staff," Police Department spokesman Sgt. Joe Bernhard said. "The downtown unit is going to be downtown for the first night events in downtown Columbia. Also the traffic unit will come in extra to do DWI patrols, and they also have overtime available."

The bottom line is there will not be checkpoints, but there will be more officers on duty looking only for DWI violators.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)data shows December holidays like Christmas and New Years Eve create significantly more drunk driving accidents than the rest of the year. An average of 304 people nationwide die annually in drunk driving crashes during the few days surrounding Christmas and New Years, according to NHTSA data.

Bernhard said there are a few reasons the Police Department is not conducting DUI check points. He said they take a week to set up, and the public must be notified three days in advance. Also, check points are funded by state grant money, not the city budget. Bernhard said the Police Department does not have money in the budget to conduct check points if the state does not chip in extra funding.