Area law enforcement officials are reminding holiday revelers to think twice before climbing behind the wheel of a car in the coming days.
With Christmas and New Year's Day falling at the end of long weekends, an increase in holiday parties and other outings could mean more motorists on the road that shouldn't be driving.
Officers will be especially alert to traffic law violations and potential drunk drivers, said Soldotna Police Sgt. Marvin Towell.
"We also will be watching for seat belt compliance -- and we'll be careful to watch for DWI violations," Towell said. "This is a time of the year when people don't really notice how much alcohol they're getting into their system. We're not out trying to ruin their fun. We want them to make sure they are here next year."
He added residents who may need a ride during the holiday weekends are urged to call the department at 262-4455.
"If they can't get a ride by any other means, we'll try to arrange to find one for them," Towell said.
Towell said the department was not planning to add extra patrols this weekend, but added officers will be out in force with stepped-up staffing on New Year's Eve.
"We will have more personnel on the streets on that Sunday," Towell said. "Probably 50 percent more."
Staffing levels will be much the same for the Alaska State Troopers, who are planning a substantial increase on New Year's Eve, said 1st Sgt. Nils Monsen of the Soldotna E Detachment.
"Around Christmas is typically a time of year that is not a problem for us," Monsen said. "We're gearing up for New Year's."
He said troopers will be out in force with extra patrols as the year 2000 makes way for 2001, thanks in part to a recent federal grant used to cover the overtime incurred by troopers working longer days.
Monsen said many of the troopers in the detachment will work 12-hour shifts.
"There will be a considerable increase," Monsen said of Dec. 31 staffing. "We will triple our presence on New Year's Eve."
Kenai Police Department Lt. Jeff Kohler echoed the plans of other departments, saying the bolstered New Year's Eve shift will include officers with a keen sense for finding drunk drivers.
"All our officers are pretty good at it," Kohler said. "But there always seems to be one or two better than others.
"They have developed a real sense for what indicates an impaired driver."
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