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Law enforcement seeks safe start to 2011

| December 30, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Last New Year's Eve, Coeur d'Alene police arrested four drunken drivers, while Kootenai County sheriff's deputies booked 17.

Don't be one in 2011.

Area law enforcement agencies are increasing police patrols this week to keep roads safe around the celebratory weekend.

Law enforcement offices don't disclose the number of patrols they put on the street, but the Idaho Transportation Department is partnering with agencies to federally fund extra manpower during the week, including in Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls and Kootenai County.

So be safe this season.

"We encourage citizens to name a designated driver and keep themselves and the public safe while ringing in the New Year," said Sgt. Christie Wood, police spokeswoman.

Last year in Idaho, impaired driving contributed to 1,567 crashes on the state highways and caused 65 fatalities.

Coeur d'Alene's extra police patrols began Monday and will continue through Jan. 3.

Also being paid for by federal money are the additional 'Party Patrols' scheduled for New Year's Eve. Those patrols focus on houses that receive complaints from residents about loud parties, looking for underage drinkers, drug usage, and basic mischief like parking cars in front of neighbors' driveways, littering and fights.

Police arrested four drunken drivers over New Year's Eve afternoon into New Year's Day in each of the last two years. Wood said the extra advertising and patrols contributed to the low totals.

The sheriff's department arrested 15 in 2008-09, and 12 in 2007-08, said Maj. Ben Wolfinger.

Post Falls police didn't have a DUI arrest between noon on New Year's Eve and noon on New Year's Day a year ago. It had one DUI arrest later on Jan. 1 and one on Jan. 2.

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