We are now fully immersed in the holiday season here on the central Kenai Peninsula. Christmas has come to Kenai and visited Soldotna Creek Park, carolers have been spotted on neighborhood streets, and children of all ages have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.
With the holiday season comes holiday parties, and we hope everyone is able to enjoy some Christmas cheer.
However, we’d also like to remind revelers that if part of your celebration includes alcohol — or, now that it’s legal, marijuana — please don’t get behind the wheel. Designate a driver, take a cab or stay the night.
Last year, Alaska State Troopers reported 48 misdemeanor arrests for driving under the influence, and two felony DUI arrests, during their statewide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enhanced enforcement patrols, from Dec. 14, 2016 through Jan. 2, 2017. Troopers also responded to two fatal collisions, 22 crashes that resulted in injury and 218 damage-only crashes during that period. Of the 1,175 citations issued, 320 were for speeding, and 23 were for seatbelt violations.
That’s a busy holiday season for law enforcement.
If personal safety isn’t enough keep you from impaired driving, consider this: according to the state Division of Motor Vehicles, the average cost of a first DUI, once you’ve calculated court fees, fines, cost of an ignition interlock, etc., is $24,265. Compared to that, the cost of a cab ride or hotel room seems pretty affordable.
Peninsula driving conditions are already challenging. With the Winter Solstice almost upon us, daylight hours are short. We’ve had a little bit of freeze-thaw weather already, making for slick roadways. Throw in a few wandering moose, and navigating the peninsula requires all of a driver’s attention. Trying to do so impaired isn’t worth the risk — not to yourself, or all the other drivers who could be injured or killed by such actions.
So please, enjoy making the holiday season merry and bright. But if Grandma — or anyone else, for that matter — has been drinking too much eggnog, please make sure she doesn’t go. There are much more serious consequences than being run over by a reindeer.