(Northland's NewsCenter)---Because New Year's Eve is typically associated with alcohol related gatherings, motorists are at risk now, more than ever.
Statewide, the month of December is the deadliest for motorists and traditionally a busy time for DUI enforcement.
Last New Year's Eve, three DUI's were issued in Northern St. Louis County.
This year, Iron Range officials and educators are doing all they can to promote safe drinking into the new year.
"New Year's Eve is a very, very bad night for DUIs," Officer Steve Estey, Toward Zero Death Coordinator said.
As part of the Toward Zero Death Campaign, Iron Rangers can expect to see four more officers patrolling the roads in the quad cities this New Year's Eve.
In 38 traffic stops around the Virginia area the weekend of Dec, 17, eight DUIs were issued.
Since the start of December, of 142 vehicle stops across the Iron Range, 12 DUIs have been issued.
Officials say their goal is to keep the roads safe and to educate people about the dangers of drinking and driving.
"You know the last thing we want to do is give someone a DUI and ruin their night," Estey said. "But unfortunately sometimes to educate somebody, you have to punish them."
It's a punishment that can be easily avoided experts say, simply by being aware of your alcohol intake.
"Have a drink and then have a non-alcoholic drink," Cheryl Bisping, Community Health Outreach Coordinator said. "You know, kind of pace it."
Students across the Iron Range have been mixing non-alcoholic drinks to give kids and adults the opportunity to celebrate and sip on something different.
"This causes an alternative for teens," Karen Blais of Iron Range Youth in Action said. "There is something fun other than that [underage drinking] and it's terrible, and this is something fun and it's really good."
Officials remind party goers to plan for a sober ride home or plan to stay at the location of the party.
"It's so much better if you crash on a couch versus somewhere on the road and end up killing yourself," Bisping said. "We really, really want everyone to get home safely and have a wonderful 2012."
Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch