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New Year's Eve drinking and driving warning

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TYLER (KYTX) - Beer and wine has made its way to Tyler, and that means many people will be ringing in the new year with spirits. Law enforcement agencies across the state have upped patrols and they're warning people about the consequences of drinking and driving.

"My plans are to just stay at home and avoid the drunk drivers."

Whether you're going out or having people over to celebrate 2013, Detective Andy Erbaugh with Tyler Police says it's important to plan ahead and make wise decisions.

"Obviously people are going to be celebrating this New Years Eve, and the Tyler Police Department is aware of that." he says. "But, as a responsible adult, you should either stay in if you're drinking or if you choose to go out, definitely take a designated driver."

Calling a cab, taking a shuttle, and avoiding alcohol yourself are also safe options.

"I'm not coming out. I'm not going to come out at all."

If you do choose to head out and drink alcohol, know that law enforcement agencies across the state are watching. They have upped patrols for the "No Refusal" campaign that runs through January 1.

"That means officers are not taking "no" for an answer. If they suspect you of being drunk behind the wheel, they'll ask you to step out and take a breathalyzer test. If you refuse, they can get a search warrant for your blood. If it's over the legal limit, you could wind up getting charged with DWI."

"You do not want to do it." says Det. Erbaugh. "It costs more than just the jail time."

Leslie Watson with Mothers Against Drunk Driving East Texas agrees; it's just not worth it.

"Nobody wants to go into the new year with that kind of unexpected expense." she says.

Watson says even more serious is the risk of injury or death.

"Once someone is injured or loses a family member in a drunk driving crash, life is never the same. And, there's a lot of heartache and anger and pain that lingers for years and years."

Lee Smith says that's why he's staying in with family for New Year's Eve.

"Well, because they just started selling beer here and I know there's going to be a lot of drunk drivers around."

Detective Erbaugh says people in Tyler have always had access to alcohol. Now, they just don't have to drive as far, but the warning against drinking and driving remains the same.

"We want you to take care no matter where you get it and where you drink it." he says.

The holidays are the deadliest time of year for drivers in Texas. TxDOT says last holiday season, there were more than 2,000 alcohol-related crashes.

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