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|Free rides available during holidays|
Local law enforcement agencies will beef up patrols over the New Year holiday weekend, looking to stop motorists who are out drinking and driving.
Officials with the State Police, Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office and Monroe and West Monroe police departments said they would have additional officers patrolling the streets this New Year weekend.
State Police will have additional Troopers on the roads looking for impaired drivers as well as motorists not wearing their seat belts.
State Police Troop F spokesman Mark Dennis said Troopers also will issue citations for hazardous violations, such as following too closely and careless operation.
Troopers will focus, too, on unrestrained occupants, unrestrained children, speeding and aggressive driving, he said.
If motorists observe unsafe driving or possible impaired driving, they are urged to call *LSP (*577) from their cell phone to report the activity to the nearest State Police office.
Law enforcement agencies also encourage local residents to take advantage of the annual Safety Cab services offered during the holiday season.
"We prefer people to call Safety Cab or a sober friend or relative to come get them because we have a lot of lost lives and injuries every year due to drunk driving," said Maj. Jerry Stansbury of the West Monroe Police Department. "We hope people will do the right thing and call someone to come pick them up."
Safety Cab is a free taxi service sponsored by St. Francis Medical Center, Glenwood Regional Medical Center, Monroe Surgical Hospital, P&S Surgery Center and Ouachita Community Hospital.
Each year, area health organizations sponsor the community service to help prevent wrecks and injuries during the holiday season because of impaired drivers. Transportation is provided by Twin City Yellow Cab. Those needing a ride home can call the cab service at 322-3113.
Free rides will be offered from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. on New Year's Eve into New Year's Day.
Safety Cab will take people from a party or bar in Ouachita Parish to their home anywhere within the parish limits. The service will not take people to another party or bar.
West Monroe Police will have additional officers patrolling businesses and residences this weekend since there are still several people who are out-of-town for the holidays, Stansbury said.
"We'll definitely have extra officers out on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day," Stansbury said.
West Monroe Police officers may also conduct some DWI driver checkpoints throughout the city during the New Year holiday weekend, Stansbury said.
Monroe assistant police chief Herbert Otwell said Monroe will beef up patrols throughout the New Year holiday weekend to stop impaired drivers.
Otwell also expects the city police department will field a number of calls related to fireworks on New Year's Eve and throughout the New Year's holiday.
Fireworks are prohibited within city limits, but Otwell said the city police department gets numerous complaints each year.
Those caught shooting fireworks within city limits can be fined and have their fireworks confiscated.