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Missoula law enforcement has extra patrols New Year's Eve

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Dec 31 2013 06:49:16 PM MST
Updated On: Dec 31 2013 10:07:29 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Missoula law enforcement officers are out in full force this New Year’s Eve and they're watching for drunk drivers.

NBC Montana rode along with officers to learn how they spot dangerous drivers.  

Sheriff's Deputy Will Newsom knows Interstate 90 well; he patrols it often, always keeping his eyes open for intoxicated drivers.

“You see people not driving straight in their lanes, crossing over lines, weaving, not keeping consistent speed,” he says.  “Following too closely, driving too fast or driving unusually slowly.”

He says simple things like forgetting to use a turn signal or not coming to a complete stop can be indicators someone has been drinking but there's one dead giveaway.

“I'm much more likely to be able to determine if the drivers are impaired by having a conversation with them,” says Newsom.

We checked the numbers and learned in 2012 Missoula County cited 12 people for drinking and driving on New Year’s Eve. Then last year New Year's Eve DUI citations dropped to only three.

Newsom's not surprised.

“We've had such a strong presence in the past year that people I think, by and large, are getting the message to get a designated driver or not hit the road after they drink,” he says.

Montana's blood alcohol content limit is 0.08, breathe over that into a breathalyzer and you will find yourself behind bars.

That's why Newsom is urging residents to choose a designated driver or call a cab because no matter how much he likes to patrol, he'd rather not bust a drunk driver.