Posted: Jan 1, 2013 6:09 PM by Irina Cates -MTN News
MISSOULA - Deterrence is law enforcement's main goal, and it seemed to have worked the night of New Year's Eve, as only four people were arrested for DUI in Missoula County.
"Always on New Year's Eve we have extra patrols out. And the great thing about it is: there sole purpose is to watch for impaired drivers. So, they're not going from call-to-call like our other patrol deputies do," says Jason Johnson, Missoula County Sheriff's Office PIO.
Deputy Zach Sargent focused solely on catching impaired drivers the night of New Year's Eve.
"The plan is: we're going to go out and we're going to be patrolling (Highway) 93 South from Missoula down to Florence," he said.
Sargent says the drunken drivers they pull over between Missoula and Florence are usually from Ravalli County and are on their way back home. He also says it's easier to single out impaired drivers out here as opposed to the city limits.
"They're traveling at higher speeds, so a lot of times their mistakes are exaggerated more, than they would be in the slower speeds of the city," said Sargent.
Drunken drivers don't always make obvious mistakes like driving the wrong way on the interstate, he said. Many impaired drivers violate the most common traffic laws.
"A lot of times they'll be making wide turns going into the corners," Sargent said. "A lot of times just the simple traffic violations-speeding, failing to use signals, failing to dim headlights."
That's what he and other officers looked for, to make sure celebrating the New Year didn't result in mourning the loss of a loved one.