ENID, Okla. —
Local law enforcement officials are urging caution over the Labor Day weekend and are warning motorists to not drink and drive.
AAA Oklahoma predicts 400,300 Oklahomans will travel more than 50 miles from home over the Labor Day holiday, a 3.7 percent increase over last year’s holiday.
End Police Department and Garfield County Sheriff’s Office are participating in enhanced DUI enforcement during the weekend.
“Officers of the Enid Police Department will be out both day and night this holiday weekend cracking down on impaired drivers,” Lt. Mark Blodgett said. “If you are stopped driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, you will go to jail. No exceptions.”
Sheriff Jerry Niles warned motorists to not drink and drive during the holiday.
“From the 16th of August until the Tuesday after Labor Day, we have special emphasis on drinking and driving, and also any type of aggressive driving, enforcement,” he said.
He said his office is part of the national Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.
Blodgett warned those celebrating the holiday with alcohol to not take any risks by drinking and driving.
“Driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is not a risk worth taking,” he said. “When driving drunk you not only risk going to jail you also risk taking the chance of being in a crash that could seriously injure or even kill yourself and others.
If alcohol will be part of your holiday celebrations, Enid Police Department recommends the following guidelines for those planning to celebrate the holiday:
• Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin. Designate a non-drinking driver and give that person your keys.
• If you’re impaired, call a taxi, a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
• If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to call law enforcement officers.
• If you know someone is about to drive a vehicle or ride a motorcycle while impaired, take his or her keys away and help make other arrangements to get them home safely.
AAA Oklahoma is offering a free ride home and tow service for people who will be drinking over the Labor Day weekend.
The service is available from 6 p.m. today until 4 a.m. Tuesday. The service is available in Enid, Shawnee, Bartlesville, Muskogee, Ardmore, Tahlequah, Lawton and the metro areas of Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai says the company also is promoting the use of designated drivers and a good attitude among drivers across the state.
People interested in Tipsy Tow can call (800) AAA-HELP.
Niles also advised those making extended trips this weekend to conduct checks of their vehicle.
“Buckle up and make sure to check your automobile and make sure it is good to go,” Niles said.
Sgt. Justin Hodges, with Enid Police Department’s Traffic Division, cautioned drivers to consider the presence of pedestrians and bicyclists out for the holiday weekend.
“It’s going to be nice out so watch for people out walking or out riding their bicycles,” Hodges said. “It’s always good when you are traveling outside your normal route to call wherever you are going to let them know your route and when to expect you.”
He also warned motorists to expect more motorcycles on the roads during the weekend and advised motorists to “drive defensively.”
“There will be a lot of traffic,” he said.
The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday through Monday, according to AAA Oklahoma.
Labor Day holiday travel volume across the country is expected to remain above the 13-year average of 38.9 million for this holiday.
The largest share of holiday travelers, 46 percent, will depart today, according to the auto club. Monday is the most popular date of return, with 43 percent planning to return that day.
Gasoline prices are not likely to play a major role in determining whether people will travel this Labor Day.
As of Tuesday the national price average for regular is $3.537, down 4.9 percent, or 18 cents per gallon, compared to the same time last year. The average price for gas on Labor Day 2012 was $3.83, the most expensive average ever for the holiday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.