Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

July 2, 2014

Law enforcement officers to keep eyes peeled for holiday trouble

TAHLEQUAH — Authorities plan to target common sources of drunk driving over the Independence Day holiday.

Several agencies will be combining their resources in the coming days to target those who are driving under the influence, according to Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King.

“We’re going to be working with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission and Cherokee Nation on State Highway 10 as part of a countywide DUI enforcement,” said King.

While the Tahlequah Police Department will have its usual patrol officers on duty in the city, other officers will be assigned to the DUI operation.

“We know the source of most of our drunk driving comes from our recreational places, so we’re focusing on the source instead of once they are on the road,” said King. “We would all urge those who are celebrating not to drink and drive, or drink and boat.”

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers will be working several special-emphasis programs in hopes of curbing fatal and serious injury crashes and water-related deaths this July 4.

“Our troopers will be highly visible this Fourth of July weekend in an attempt to reduce collisions and dangerous behaviors both on our roads and waterways throughout the state,” said Col. Ricky Adams, chief of patrol for the OHP. “Troopers will conduct DUI special emphasis and saturation patrols while looking for violations of law that contribute to collisions every day.”

Troopers will watch for speeding violations, those who are inattentively driving, those who fail to wear their seat belts or properly restrain children, and those who don’t wear the proper flotation devices, Adams said.

During the July 4 holiday last year, four people died in vehicle collisions and two people drowned.

Adams said Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort and Operation Dry Water will be in effect over the weekend.

Dangerous drivers and boat operators can be reported to the OHP by calling *55 from any mobile device.

The Tipsy Tow program is also available from 6 p.m. July 3 until 4 a.m. July 6 in Tahlequah and several other cities across Oklahoma.

AAA will provide a free tow and ride home, no questions asked, within a 15-mile radius from the point of pick up for the vehicle and up to two people. Rides are free to AAA members and non-members.

“Over the holidays, about 40 percent of all fatal crashes in Oklahoma involve alcohol,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “When you’re drinking, the first thing to be impacted is your judgment and unfortunately, many holiday partiers climb behind the wheel thinking they’re fine when they really aren’t. With Tipsy Tow, everyone, including the vehicle, gets home in one piece.”

To access Tipsy Tow, call 800-222-4357.

“This is the 24th year AAA Oklahoma has offered Tipsy Tow,” said Mai. “The club absorbs the costs and we feel it’s worth it. Hopefully, it will get a lot of use over the Fourth. Lives can be saved if people will just step back, think it over and call Tipsy Tow instead of making what could be a tragic choice to drink and drive.”

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com

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