Archive for Thursday, December 8, 2005

Chief takes hard line on drinking and driving

Police offer tips for those attending holiday parties

December 8, 2005, 12:00 a.m.

Updated: December 8, 2005, 9:23 a.m.

Lansing Police Chief Steve Wayman doesn't want to throw cold water on parties this holiday season, but he doesn't want revelers to be responsible for a tragedy in Lansing, either.

To that end, Wayman has a clear message for those people celebrating the season: Don't drink and drive.

"Partygoers and party-givers have to be very conscious of the effects of alcohol on driving," Wayman said. "When people drink and drive, they put your family in jeopardy, they put my family in jeopardy, they put everybody on the road in jeopardy."

He said two alcohol-related accidents late last month led him to sound off about people who get behind the wheel after drinking.

"Usually, it's not the person drinking who gets hurt," he said. "It's the innocent people who do, and I just hate to see that.

"And it only takes one accident to really mess things up for the holidays."

It's not to say Wayman wants to see an end to holiday parties; he just wants people to be drink responsibly.

"We want everybody to have a good time, but there are a lot of different avenues they can take other than getting behind the wheel and driving," he said.

Among his suggestions for partygoers:

¢ Use a designated driver.

¢ Parents shouldn't hesitate to call a teenage licensed driver to pick them up if they've been drinking.

¢ Call a cab.

Party hosts can help, Wayman said, by arranging ahead of time for someone not attending the party to take partygoers home.

"There are a bunch of creative options that can really make the holiday season safer," he said.

He did caution, however, that if a host lets someone sleep off their drinking, they still could be a danger behind behind the wheel the next morning.

"If you drink until one or two in the morning and wake up all hung over, guess what? You're probably still over the legal limit," he said.

Though no saturation patrols to find drunken drivers are scheduled between now and the end of the holiday season in Lansing, Wayman said such efforts are still a possibility. Meanwhile, police on regular patrols will be on the lookout, and drunken drivers shouldn't expect officers to cut them a break.

"That's one area where I don't cut any slack," Wayman said. "I don't have any sympathy for drinking and driving."

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