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APD to step up drunk driving enforcement

By Bonney Bowman 6:53 AM December 20, 2013

A grant from the Alaska Highway Safety Office is making it possible for Anchorage police to add extra DUI patrols Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

ANCHORAGE – It’s the weekend before Christmas, and that means lots of spiked eggnog and holiday parties for some Alaskans.

It also means more drunk drivers on local roads.

Downtown bars, like Humpy’s, are expecting big crowds this weekend as people get out to celebrate Christmas. But anchorage residents should expect to see more police officers on the streets as the Anchorage Police Department steps up enforcement to catch drunk drivers.

Charlisa Folger was out celebrating her birthday and the holidays with a few drinks Thursday. She did what Anchorage Police hope everyone does this holiday season: She planned ahead.

“My boyfriend is driving,” Folger said.

A grant from the Alaska Highway Safety Office is making it possible for Anchorage police to step up drunk driving patrols during the holiday season.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as many as 10 additional officers will be on the streets.

“They’re out there with the specific mission of locating impaired drivers, stopping them, identifying them, arresting them and prosecuting them,” said APD Sgt. Roy LeBlanc.

Officers know when the drinks start flowing, it can be easy to have just one too many.

“When you have someone who maybe doesn’t drink on a regular basis and then they start to drink, they start to lose inhibition, have another drink,” LeBlanc said. “They have another drink, it impairs their ability to make a good sound decision.”

Managers at Humpy’s have seen it firsthand, and try to step in before someone gets behind the wheel.

“Responsible drinking is not just drinking alcohol,” said General Manager Pete Burns. “It’s about making sure you’re safe on the roads, you’re not getting behind the wheel of a vehicle because it jeopardizes other people.”

It’s a lesson Folger learned the hard way.

“Personally, I have had a DUI and I don’t want to do that ever again,” she said. “I don’t want to put myself in that situation.”

She said it just takes a minute to plan ahead: Decide how you’re getting home before you step out the door.

The extra patrols will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through the end of the year.

After launching last weekend, they’ve already led to 14 DUI arrests.

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