MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The countdown to the New Year is starting. And while you're out celebrating, local law enforcement won't be taking a holiday.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety is still in their "Sober or Slammer" campaign. They are concentrating enforcement through the weekend into the New Year, with over 500 arrests in just 2 weeks, according to the SCDPS. In that time, 35 people have died on our roadways.
With fatalities on the rise in our area, patrols are pulling extra resources for this weekend.
Highway Patrol Col. Mike Oliver says,"New Year's eve is not a holiday for troopers. We know visibility makes a difference. If people know we are out in large numbers, they tend to adjust their driving behaviors."
With NYE falling on a Tuesday, many people are making a long weekend out of the holiday.
"There's a lot of parties, a lot of celebrations, and a lot of drinking," says Mike Reynolds, visiting the Grand Strand for the holiday.
Many people ring in the New Year with a drink in hand.
Catie Higgins a bartender at Kingstreet Grille in the Market Common suggests, "Be smart, have a DD. If you don't, call a cab. They're not that expensive. It's less than paying for a DUI, or a ticket, a night in jail…or your life."
Bartenders are trained on when to cut off the celebration.
"You don't want to upset the customer and say you can't have anymore to drink, but our job is also to keep you safe, as well as happy," explains Katelyn Keilholtz, also a bartender at Kingstreet Grille.
Keilholtz and Higgins both agree that your safety is their number one priority.
"I wouldn't want to serve someone and have them get into an accident and seriously hurt themselves. I wouldn't want that burden, I'd rather just call a taxi," says Keilholtz.
Diamond Cab is offering free rides to make sure you can make it into the New Year.
Josh Rauzi, the General Manager of Diamond Cab explains, "If anyone has too much to drink, hand your keys to a bartender and have them call us. We'll pick them up for free."
With many people out celebrating, taxi companies and bartenders suggest you plan on how to get home before you head out the door. You can even make reservations with a taxi ahead of time, or have a designated driver.
"If you're going to go that route and not get a taxi, have a designated driver because all it takes is one error in judgment and it can change your life forever," says Rauzi.
Since December 14th, 2012, 35 people have died on South Carolina roadways, according to the SCDPS.