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New Year's Eve Revelers Urged Not to Drink and Drive

Alcohol-impaired accidents declined in Wisconsin by 1.9 percent in 2010, but with the arrival of New Year's Eve, officials want to remind drivers to drink responsibly.

There were 13,000 traffic accidents on Wisconsin roads in December 2010 — the highest of any month last year.

And as December 2011 comes to an end, law enforcement officials are reminding drivers not to drink and drive as they celebrate New Year's Eve on Saturday.

There were more than 40,000 drunken driving convictions last year, said Randy Romanski, safety programs chief for the Wisconsin State Patrol.

“That’s far too many. It’s a tremendous danger on our roads,” he said.

There also were 205 fatalities in the state in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Drunken driving accident related fatalities accounted for 36 percent of all vehicle accident deaths in the state.

Menomonee Falls Police Chief Anna Ruzinski said generally during the holidays there are more people out on the roads, but she couldn’t necessarily say whether that correlates with more accidents or alcohol-related arrests.

The Menomonee Falls Police Department, like other police departments, receives grants from the state to put more officers the roads during the holiday season.

While there has been a decline in alcohol-related driving fatalities, drunken driving still accounts for one in three deaths on American roadways every year.

“The most important thing for people to remember is to drink responsibly,” said Romanski.

Romanski said those who plan to party on New Year's Eve should find a designated driver for the night, or call a friend or taxi to get a safe ride home.

Ruzinski agreed and urged people to plan ahead.

If you are heading into Milwaukee County, MillerCoors is sponsoring a free ride during New Year’s Eve through the Milwaukee County Transit System.

Booking a stay in a local hotel is also a good alternative to driving, if you plan to go out on New Year’s Eve, officials said.

And if you're not sure whether you've had too much to drink, the state Department of Transportation has a drunken driving calculator on its website or you can download an alcohol monitor app for your smartphone.

While those all are good suggestions, the best advice came from Ruzinski, who simply said: “Don’t drink and drive.”

“We’re trying to reduce the number of preventable traffic deaths in Wisconsin to zero,” added Romanski. “One of the best ways is a reminder that if you drive drunk you could kill yourself or someone else.”

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