EAST LIVERPOOL - New Year's Eve is a holiday that signifies, for many, a time of relaxation and enjoyment following a busy and sometimes stressful Christmas season. In addition to ringing in the New Year with family and friends, people will celebrate and unwind with champagne or other alcoholic beverages. That can also make it a more dangerous time to be behind the wheel.
For that reason, Sergeant Ron Cox at the State Highway Patrol post in Lisbon says he and his colleagues will be out in greater numbers on New Year's Eve searching for drunk drivers, with increased patrols from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. "There's no reason to have an impaired driver out on the roads," he said. "If push comes to shove, they can obviously make the right decision and call a family
member if they need a safe way home."
People who plan to drive are urged by the State Highway Patrol to use extra caution when traveling on local roads on New Year’s Eve, particularly at intersections like state Route 7 and Kountz Avenue outside of Wellsville. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
Those searching for transportation alternatives can also call taxi services. Selena Smith of Tri-State Cab in East Liverpool says the company is expecting a higher volume of calls on the holiday. Although no special rates will be offered for New Year's Eve, their regular transport service will be available: One driver takes the fare home in a cab while a second drives the fare's vehicle home for them.
Cox urges motorists to use extra caution on New Year's Eve, particularly when approaching traffic signals, to make sure that drivers in the cross lanes stop when they are supposed to. Although he did not identify any particularly dangerous intersections to avoid, Cox did state that they collectively are the most common scenes of fatal crashes in the county. Adding darkness and intoxicating beverages only increases the danger.
On a positive note, Cox says there have been no New Year's fatalities on county roads during his six years at the Lisbon post. He believes the message of not driving drunk has permeated the public and gained widespread acceptance. "More people are taking precautions and having a designated driver," he said. In fact, according to a press release from the East Central Region AAA, 97 percent of people surveyed for the 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index stated that it was "unacceptable" for an impaired driver to get behind the wheel.
The penalties for those arrested for OVI can vary based on the driving record of the individual, but a first offense can result in a three-day jail sentence, plus fines and fees totaling more than $1,000. Cox says troopers will also crack down on open container violations for both drivers and passengers, leading to a $100 fine for those cited.