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Holiday season less intoxicating this year than last
By William Henderson/ [email protected]
Thursday, January 6, 2005

Every year between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, police more vigilantly patrol streets and watch for drunk drivers.

And every year, police nab a lot of the inebriated, tallying a larger percentage of alcohol-related arrests during this five-week period than during any other time of year.

But not this year, Police Capt. Neil Ouellette said Monday.

In 2004, Danvers police arrested and charged 107 individuals with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, with eight of these arrests, or less than 7.5 percent, occurring during the last five weeks of the year. In 2003, in contrast, there were 82 drunk driving arrests, with 22, or 27 percent, in the last five weeks.

"I'd like to think it's the You Drink, You Drive, You Lose campaign," Ouellette said about the state-initiated effort that Danvers joins. "People know we'll be out doing increased and enhanced enforcement in specific areas. Maybe that gets the message out. Of course, some of it is also clearly the luck of the draw."

Police often rely on other motorists to report erratic vehicle behavior, and if they don't, then some guilty souls may make it home without attracting police attention.

Another deterrent could be the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission's "Last Call" program, which targets bars with a history of serving intoxicated individuals. Intoxicated individuals, if identified prior to leaving a bar or other similar establishment, will be taken into protective custody or given a safe ride home.

Ouellette also commended his officers, especially Officer Scott Frost, for increased enforcement efforts. Mothers Against Drunk Driving thinks so too and will honor Frost, along with officers from other police departments, on Jan. 25 for "being aggressive in drunk driving enforcement" at their annual MADD's Drive for Life Law Enforcement Awards breakfast at the Westin Waltham Hotel in Waltham.

"We were asked for nominations and Officer Frost clearly has demonstrated that he is very aggressive in drunk driving enforcement," Ouellette said. "He clearly deserved to be nominated for this award."
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