Law enforcement watching for drunk drivers over holidays

HOUGHTON – As with law enforcement agencies around the country, Copper Country police departments will be especially diligent during the coming holiday week watching for possible inebriated drivers, but the number of road patrols will be the same or increase, depending on the department.

Houghton Police Chief John Donnelly said although officers will be looking out for possible drunken drivers, the department won’t be putting any more patrols than normal on the streets of the city.

“We’re going with regular staffing,” he said.

Donnelly said Christmas Eve isn’t a time when there’s an increase in drunken drivers.

“That’s not typically a problem,” he said.

However, Donnelly said New Year’s Eve can present an issue with an increase in drunken drivers, especially for people who decided on the spur of the moment to stop at a bar or a party.

“That’s when we have more problems,” he said.

He expects to have two or three officers on patrol for the coming week.

Processing someone who was stopped for drunken driving can take two and a half to three hours, Donnelly said. The person’s breath and or blood has to be tested, and if the person is arrested for drunken driving, there is the time needed to book that person into Houghton County jail.

At this time of year, Donnelly said patrol officers have to watch out for snowmobile riders who may be riding in the city while intoxicated.

The Houghton County Sheriff’s Office will not be doing anything special on the roads of the county for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, according to Sgt. Joshua Saaranen.

“We’ll have our normal patrols during the holidays,” he said.

However, Saaranen said the sheriff’s office, which patrols 24 hours per day, could have an extra car on the roads.

The Michigan State Police does increase the number of personnel working the roads of the state during the holidays, and Sgt. James Revoyr said that’s the case at the Calumet post.

“We are having an extra two people working on New Year’s Eve,” he said.

However, Revoyr said although there are more people driving during the holidays, the MSP is finding there has been a decrease in the number of people stopped for possible drunken driving. Many are either using a designated driver or they’re taking taxis home after celebrating.

“People are being more responsible,” he said.

The MSP will begin its extra patrols next week, Revoyr said, because Christmas Eve isn’t usually a problem as far as drunken driving is concerned.

“People are usually home.”