Around the New Year’s holiday is the time driving under the influence incidents raise dramatically, according to Wyoming County Sheriff C. S. Parker.

The increase in DUI incidents stems mainly from family gatherings and holiday parties, Chief Deputy Randall Aliff emphasized.

Parker cautions those attending gatherings or other social functions where alcohol is served to name a designated driver, someone who won’t drink during the festivities and can safely drive afterwards.

He also warns all drivers should be cautious, looking out for other drivers who may not maintain control of their vehicles. Driving defensively could save someone’s life, he said.

Patrols are increased throughout the period, Parker noted, watching for those driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

While a breathalyzer will reveal alcohol levels in the blood stream, it is only one of a series of tests that can prove the driver is impaired, Aliff explained.

Field sobriety tests can determine the coordination and stability levels of the driver.

Currently the legal limit for determining intoxication is .08, Parker explained. The limit is .05 for those under 18 years of age.

The amount of alcohol it takes to make someone drunk depends on height and weight as well as tolerance levels, Aliff explained.

Law enforcement officers do not have to prove a driver is drunk, but merely impaired, Aliff noted.

Prescription medications can have the same effect as alcoholic beverages. Those prescriptions carry warnings, Aliff noted.

Any DUI offense carries a mandatory jail sentence, loss of driver’s license and a fine.

The first offense carries a 24-hour jail sentence, loss of license for up to six months and a fine between $100 and $500, Parker said.

The second offense carries a six-month to one-year jail sentence, loss of license for up to 10 years and a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000.

The third offense carries a one- to three-year jail sentence because it’s a felony, sometimes permanent loss of the driver’s license, and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $3,000.

However, those convicted of the third offense can re-apply for their driver’s license after 10 years, according to officials.

While the stiff sentences may deter some, Aliff said, there are those who don’t seem to mind spending time in jail.

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