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2015-1000-ffccccccTransparent-3333-0.20.3-1.pngThe Northwest Florida Daily News reports that lawmen across the Emerald Coast are encouraging people to make safe choices when ringing in the new year. The Walton County Sheriff's Office announced recently it is teaming up with Grayton Beer and Sunshine Shuttle and Limousine to encourage people not to drive drunk on New Year's Eve. "Safety is a must when we celebrate the New Year," said Walton County Sheriff's Lt. Doc Savage. "More people will be driving under the influence on this particular night, so avoid a potentially dangerous accident by staying off the road. "If you do drink, make sure you have a plan in place to get home safely," he continued. "Otherwise, be alert, drive defensively and buckle up."

Deputies in Okaloosa County will be on alert for drunken drivers, with the help of the community, according to Sheriff's Office spokesperson Michele Nicholson. She reminded citizens that community members are also watching the roads and many won't hesitate to call in suspected drunken drivers on the roads. "Don't risk it, because if a deputy doesn't spot you, odds are someone else will and will phone it in," she said. Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Rich Aloy said that deputies would be "heavily involved" in patrolling for drunken drivers on New Year's Eve. "A taxi costs about $25, but a DUI can cost over $10,000," he said. "Choose your ride wisely."

Local tow truck companies are offering free tow and pickup services as the New Year kicks off. White's Wrecker Service will be offering their services throughout Bay County and Gulf County, starting midnight New Year's Eve into midnight New Year's Day. The tow company has provided the service for 30 years. Management says it's a way to give back. "It keeps people safe... [and] drunk drivers off the road. It helps ensure that mom and dad will be home tomorrow, or even your child will be home tomorrow," said Hassie White, manager of White's Wrecker Service. White says they will have about 20 tow trucks on hand. The service is only available to people needing a ride home, who don't want to leave their vehicle behind.

2012 Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatality Data

Total Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: 697

Under 21 Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities : 55

2012 Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities per 100,000 Population

Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: 3.6

Under 21 Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: 1.2

2002-2012 % Change in Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities per 100K Pop

10-year Change in Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities : -33.8

10-year Change in Under 21 Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities : -59.1

Percent of Drivers in Fatal Crashes Involving Repeat Offenders

BAC .08-.14 50

BAC .15+ 50

2012 Arrest Data

Under 18: Driving under the influence 197

Total: Driving under the influence 44894

Under 18: Liquor laws 1202

Total: Liquor laws 26954

Under 18: Drunkenness 0

Total: Drunkenness 0

Source: ttp://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/choose-your-ride-wisely-lawmen-tell-new-year-s-revelers-1.419170 & http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/witness-says-christmas-wreck-changed-meaning-of-holiday-for-her-family-1.418814

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