They will be out and about on New Year’s Eve. And just who is “they?”

 Be assured they are people who have no business being behind the wheel. They are drunk.

  “They” also refers to all of the Arizona Department of Public Safety officers who will be patrolling Graham and Greenlee counties’ highways and keeping a sharp watch for drunk drivers. DPS Sgt. Dan Long confirmed that all officers will be working New Year’s Eve to take impaired and drunk drivers off Greenlee and Graham roadways.

 Long emphasized that those who do celebrate somewhere other than their homes and plan on returning home should do so with a designated driver, someone who has had nothing or very little to drink.

 Along with the DPS, officers from county and municipal agencies will be keeping a close lookout for those who may choose to drive when they should not. New Year’s Eve falls on Monday night, but DPS and most, if not all, law agencies in Graham and Greenlee will be keeping a sharp watch for motorists who might be DUI.

 Greenlee County Sheriff Larry Avila said his officers will be working with other agencies while patrolling over the weekend and on New Year’s Eve. “It’s a matter of guarding the public’s safety. It would be a great tragedy to have an innocent person, or even an entire family, injured or wiped out because one person decided to get behind the wheel when they should have known better.”

 He added, “It’s not like the word’s not out there warning people about the consequences of drinking and driving. From a public safety and law enforcement point of view, it comes down to the choices people make. Too many times they make a bad choice, and drunk driving is one of the worst mistakes they could make.”

Graham County Sheriff P.J. Allred echoed the other law enforcement administrator's comments and impl-ored those who wish to imbibe for the holiday to get a designated driver.

"It's the beginning of a new year," Allred said. "We can start it off happy, or we can make bad decisions, wind up with a DUI and start off our new year in debt."

Allred also encouraged drunk drivers to stay off the roads to lessen the chance of a collision.

"It's not like it's a big secret," he said. "People get arrested every year for DUI – especially around that time of the year – because there are a lot of people drinking, and a lot of bad accidents occur, too. And the majority of them are caused because the people have been drinking. Why would you want to do that? Why would you want to put yourself or someone else in that position to get hurt or to hurt somebody else?"

Recently, the Thatcher Police Department has had two DUI-related crashes occur on the same street. Its chief, Shaffen Woods, said his department would be taking part in the patrols and plans to increase its DUI investigations presence in 2013.

"Hopefully we're going to be reducing those (DUI-related crashes)," Woods said. "Make sure you have a sober driver."

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