Updated 12/30/2012 05:14 PM
Police explain realities of a DWI charge
While drinking is expected at New Year's Eve parties, police want to remind everyone to be safe this holiday. Our Cara Thomas spoke with law enforcement officials about the seriousness of driving while intoxicated.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. --The New Year's ball has dropped, the parties are ending and you're on your way home. You've had quite a few drinks throughout the night, but you think you're fine to drive. However, police say it's those few drinks that cause about a third of fatal car accidents.
Sgt. Gary Bulinski, from the Syracuse Police Department, said, "When you look at drinking, it affects your fine motor skills, your dexterity, your vision, your hearing and therefore you have trouble doing the simple things such as operating a vehicle."
Not only is drunk driving dangerous for the driver and everyone else on the road, but with court fees, bail and an increase in insurance the financial damage is enormous.
"First offense ends up running somewhere in the neighborhood of nine thousand dollars here in Onondaga County," said Bulinski.
While the first DWI charge is a misdemeanor, it'll still leave a mark. It'll be the start of a criminal record and could keep a person from a career in nursing, law enforcement or the military.
But the biggest price to pay could be the loss of a life, whether it's the driver or an innocent bystander. And police say they're doing all they can to prevent that from happening this year.
Bulinski said, "If we can take that proactive approach as we do here in the City of Syracuse, have the extra patrols out there, make the arrests when necessary hopefully we can avoid causing that pain for other families."
Police encourage everyone to plan ahead before going out on New Year's Eve: Call a cab, have a family member or friend come get you or have a designated driver. They say it's those smart decisions that could save a life.