Hingham Police will be out and about tonight for what Sergeant Steven Dearth called one of the busiest nights for drunken drivers.
According to Dearth, Hingham police want to make sure the night before Thanksgiving is a safe one on the road for everyone. To this end, they will add additional officers on the road with the sole purpose of detecting and arresting drunk drivers.
Hingham implemented a similar program last year, with great success.
“Last year was the first year that the Hingham police added specific drunk driving patrols for Thanksgiving eve. Two additional officers were hired, specifically dedicated to OUI enforcement. They conducted 19 traffic stops, arrested two drivers for OUI, and assisted other officers at two disturbance calls at licensed liquor establishments,” Dearth said in a release.
This year, in addition to working Thanksgiving eve, additional officers for “OUI saturation patrols” will be working on Friday and Saturday as well.
“This is based on popularity of the Thanksgiving weekend for school class reunions, college students home and people who may go out after holiday shopping,” Dearth said.
Funding for the program comes from a federal community-policing grant to pay for OUI saturation patrols.
The program is a part of the town’s overall commitment to combat drunk driving, and already this year, numbers have gone up.
In 2011, from January through Nov. 21, Hingham have arrested 87 people for drunk driving. That number has increased over 26 percent from last year, where only 69 arrests took place in the same period.
Although Hingham Police would not release when they would begin their patrols this weekend, they said that they will be on roads where OUI crashes and arrests have been the highest throughout 2011.
Police will also conduct high visibility OUI saturation patrols – in an effort to show a high presence along these roads to further deter potential drunk driving.
Police are also seeking the public’s help during this potentially dangerous time. Witnesses to drunk driving should call 9-1-1 immediately, and describe the make and color of the vehicle, the license plate, and the direction the car is headed.
The behavior police will be looking for mostly revolved around failure to keep right, following too closely, driving recklessly, driing aggressively, and speeding.
Officers will also be enforcing seat belt violations, “as we know it’s your best defense against drunk drivers,” Dearth said.
“If you plan on going out, please have a designated driver,” Dearth said. “With 26 establishments in Hingham participating in the Designated Driver program, there is no excuse for not planning ahead.”
Police are also asking for friends to make sure that no one drives drunk.
“We want people go out and celebrate responsibly,” Dearth said. “Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy with family and friends, not spent in the emergency room or planning a funeral. The best way to prevent a tragedy is to not let a person who has been drinking get behind the wheel.”