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Law Enforcement Urges New Year's Eve Safety

Created: 12/31/2013 7:10 PM KAALtv.com
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 News) -- It's New Year's Eve ... a night to celebrate.

But there are always *some* who over-do it, and the results can be disastrous.

This year, there's a new media campaign aimed at preventing that, using stories of people who've been there.

"You always want to be a responsible drinker" said Austin Police Captain Dave McKichan.

“Whether it's getting a friend, taking a cab, getting a designated driver and so on" said Mower County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mark May.

In the last five years, five people have died and more than 200 have been injured drunk driving crashes over the New Year’s holiday in Minnesota.

And now, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety has produced a series of on-line videos, telling the story of drunk driving in the words of those arrested for doing it.

Beyond the emotional cost of someone being injured or killed in a DWI crash, the *financial* cost could easily top ten thousand dollars.

"The cost related to the loss of license and reinstatement, the insurance cost is going to go up, you're going to have some fines and fees you're going to have to pay" Austin police captain Dave McKichan told us.

The public information campaigns and law enforcement saturation patrols seem to be getting the word out:

"We're about 100 to 120 DUIs's lower than what our average was 10-12 years ago" police captain Dave McKichan said. But it doesn’t mean drunk driving isn’t still a problem: “In our county we still make 270 to 300 dui arrests a year."

And that might be just the tip of the iceberg.

"We certainly are only catching a very small percentage of the DUI's on the road out there" McKichan said.

Aome agencies *we* talked to said they plan to have extra officers on duty tonight.

Others, like the Austin Police Pepartment, routinely overlap shifts, which gives them extra officers on the streets over bar-closing time.