Here's your 2004 last warning - 'Don't drive hammered!'

Don't risk starting off 2005 from behind bars by over indulging and then driving.

Law enforcement agencies warn New Year's Eve drivers that driving "hammered" will cost you a night in jail and upwards of $8,125 in fines.

"If you drive hammered, you will get nailed," said Edica Esqueda of the Yakima County Traffic Safety Task Force.

Esqueda, who is the county's task force coordinator, said officers from seven Lower Valley police departments, including the Yakima County Sheriff's Office and Washington State Patrol, will be looking for any signs of driving under the influence tonight (New Year's Eve).

"Drivers appearing to be under the influence will be stopped and they likely will end up spending time in jail during the New Year's holiday," Esqueda added.

The task force's "Drive Hammered, Get Nailed" campaign will wrap up Jan. 3, Esqueda said. She said the campaign is funded by the Washington State Traffic Commission's as part of a statewide DUI awareness campaign.

The catchy slogan has been used in radio, television and print media public service announcements since Nov. 22, she said.

In addition, the campaign has provided Sunnyside and Mabton police departments with extra overtime funds to cover the cost of extra man hours during the DUI emphasis patrols, Esqueda explained.

While the legal limit of blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 the law enforcement is seeing many more drivers with BAC double that amount

"Driving Hammered will cost you," she said. For example a persons who blows a .15 BAC or who refuses to be tested when being booked in at the jail, risks spending a minimum of 48 hours in jail with maximum time of one year on his/her first conviction.

Fines can range from $925 to upwards of $8,125 per conviction.

Drivers with a DUI can also expect to lose their license, have an ignition interlock system added to their vehicle and may be ordered to undergo a drug and alcohol assessment.

Then there is the potential of ongoing counseling at local AA meetings.

"All in all, if you are going to be out drinking this New Year's eve, it is far better to get a designated driver," Esqueda cautioned.

"Be a responsible person and don't take chances," she said.


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