DES MOINES, Iowa – The year is almost over, and many of us will make our way out to celebrate.
“New Year’s Eve downtown is like a typical Saturday on steroids,” said Ted Hawley, part owner of Beer Can Alley.
“It’s a lot of people doing a lot more drinking than they are normally used to,” said Jeff Bruning, owner of El Bait Shop.
That’s why local authorities are stepping up their game.
“People are going to turn it into a four-day weekend. It could be a busy night for us,” said Iowa State Sgt. Nate Ludwig. “Last year there were four fatalities over the four-day weekend for New Year’s.”
Those four fatalities happened on the road and involved alcohol, making it the most fatalities on New Year’s Eve night since 2009. It’s a number everyone wants to turn into zero like it was in 2014 and 2010.
“For the most part, everyone is getting increasingly smarter. It costs a lot of money to get in trouble, and I think people know that,” says Bruning.
Hawley echos that observation.
“It makes me feel good. You can come out and not have to worry about people getting home. Can kind of just relax and be glad everyone is having a good time,” Hawley said.
So before you head out tonight to ring in the New Year, the Iowa State Patrol wants to remind you of one thing:
“We’re looking, we’re watching for it. If you plan to drink, get a sober driver,” Ludwig said. “Any amount of alcohol. I wouldn’t even risk it because you know there is going to be law enforcement out there.
As of Thursday afternoon, 316 people have died on Iowa roads. Ludwig said that if no fatal crashes happen Thursday night, the state will have the lowest number of crash fatalities since around the time of WWII when the state started keeping records.
The Iowa chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving has partnered with Uber to offer free rides to new users.
If you use the code “SafeRidesIA” you’ll get a $15 credit for both ways.
Below are phone numbers for Trans Iowa cab services: