Holiday Crackdown on Drunk Drivers

JONESBORO-Sobriety checkpoints will be set up throughout the city this weekend and police officers will be working around the clock.

I got a chance to ride along with the Jonesboro police department Saturday night  and found out what all goes into keeping drunk driving at a minimum.

Officer Andy Gossett tells me, keeping everyone safe is a must.

"My family's out on this road, and even I'm on this road. I don't want to be involved in an accident where somebody's impaired. We're just trying to keep everybody safe. We don't want anybody to get hurt. And that's our goal," said Gossett.

On Saturday night I rode with officer Andy Gossett. He was on d-w-i patrol, and after serving for four years, he says every night brings surprise.

"When you come to work you never really know what your going to get into. Every night is different. Every situation is different."

And after only an hour on patrol, a routine traffic stop took a very interesting turn when a group of men tell us that there is a truck on fire very close to our location.

Officer Gossett and I rushed to the nearby parking lot where we found a pickup truck engulfed in flames. After a quick check to make sure the vehicle was empty, officer Gossett calls for help and locates the driver.

A few minutes later the Jonesboro fire department is on the scene.   Luckily nobody was hurt and the fire was extinguished quickly, but it only shows how much law enforcement's duties can change in the blink of an eye.

Fast forward about thirty minutes. With sirens blaring, we are now in pursuit of a driver who ran a red light on stadium, sending a red flag up that he might be impaired.

"When I saw him go through the light he never hit his brakes," said Gossett.  "It's very possible because people that are intoxicated don't pay attention very well. They have a hard time driving a car and looking up to see if it's red. So yeah, it's always possible. "

It turns out the driver of this truck was not drinking, but he did get cited for hazardous driving, not wearing his seatbelt, and failing to show proof of insurance.

However, our next subject wasn't so lucky. After being thrown out of a local restaurant for intoxication and starting a fight, we joined several other officers who found the man in his car, and behind the driver's wheel.

"Even if we think somebody's been drinking, we are going to get them out of the car and do field sobriety on them. And depending on how they do on field sobriety, that is what we base an arrest on, said Gossett."

Officer Gossett tells us the signs of drinking are easy to spot, whether it be the smell of alcohol, coordination, or speech problems.   It didn't take long to realize the man we had come up on was indeed, very intoxicated.

"The tests we give are basic divided attention tests...doing two things at once, that any body can do, except if you've been drinking."

For those who are going to be out and about celebrating the new year...remember this!

"Don't get out on the road if you've been drinking. Even if you've had a little bit, don't risk it. It's not worth it. It will ruin your life," said Gossett.

Police want to remind you that even a little over the limit is a crime, and no matter whether the vehicle is moving or not...if you are behind the wheel, you could be charged with a d-w-i.

Police say the best thing you can do is stay put or have a designated driver, and remember they do this everyday and they know what to look for.

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