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Police out in force for drunk drivers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Police are beefing up patrols in advance of New Year's Eve festivities that will surely bring holiday revelry to the streets of Charleston - and intoxicated drivers along with it.

The Charleston Police Department will have as many as five to 12 more officers on patrol than on an ordinary night.  

The department doesn't have plans for any sobriety checkpoints, but Lt. Shawn Williams said "dramatically increasing" police presence can deter drunk driving, and catch any intoxicated drivers who do get behind the wheel.

Local police increase patrols throughout the holidays, Williams said, "when, invariably, people will get intoxicated and then drive."

It's a frustrating exercise, he said, when police spend so much time and energy on educational programs to try to ward off drunk driving.

But any time police expect more people to be out, they try to match the numbers with a larger police presence.

In 2011, there were 90 traffic fatalities in West Virginia involving a driver with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.

"If you're in Charleston, there's literally no sense in driving impaired," Williams said. "Everybody's got a friend they can call. Simply get a designated driver."

Officers will concentrate efforts downtown, where the majority of revelers are expected to gather.

Last New Year's Eve, Charleston police arrested 13 people for driving under the influence, some with blood-alcohol levels as high as the mid-0.2 range.

State Police and the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office will also beef up their patrols, and similar efforts are under way in neighboring counties. It's all part of a national movement to stop drunk driving.

Even if they don't, there are options: New Year's Eve is one of three times a year that Charleston's C&H Taxi offers its "Intoxi-Taxi" service.

That means that anyone too intoxicated to drive from 10 p.m. today through 5 a.m. Tuesday can get a free or discounted ride home - to access the service go to the taxi stand on the 100 block of Virginia St., or call C&H Taxi at 304-344-4902 (don't forget to drop the program's name - Intoxi-Taxi).

Contact writer Shay Maunz at or 304-348-4886.


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