Law enforcement hit the streets as people celebrate New Year

Police watch for drunk drivers, random gunfire


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Law enforcement across central Florida hit the streets Tuesday night in preparation for what experts call the most dangerous night of the year on the roads.

As people came out for New Year's Eve, parties in downtown Orlando were met with road blocks and uniformed police on nearly every corner.

Well before midnight, the party had already started and so had the planning for what happens after the party's over.

One woman heading to the bars told Local 6, "We don't drink and drive. No, not at all. That would be the last thing I would want to go into the next year. We don't want to start the new year off dying."

"People know not to drink and drive on certain nights -- not that you should drink and drive any night, but we have less drunk driving arrest on New Year's Eve," said Orange County Sheriff's Office Lt. Paul Hopkins. "That's because of a couple things: The education to the public. There's AAA, who officers free tows home to people who have had too much to drink. And the law enforcement presence who's out there looking for drunk drivers."

But the facts are sobering.

According to Mother's Against Drunk Driving, in the U.S., impaired drivers kill 10,000 people every year, and the group considers New Year's Eve the most dangerous night.

That's why every police officer working in central Florida had their eyes set on drunk drivers. Both on- and off-duty Orlando police officers hit the streets.

While deputies said they have not planned any DUI checkpoints in Orange County, they have a warning to people heading out.

"Every police officer in central Florida is a roving checkpoint looking for drunk drivers," said Lt. Hopkins.

Drunk driving is not the only problem on New Year's Eve. Deputies have announced a zero-tolerance policy for anybody firing a gun to ring in the new year, and said anyone caught firing a weapon to celebrate will be arrested.