By Jessica Mathews /

Livingston County residents are being encouraged to enjoy the close of 2021 and the promise of a new year but to celebrate responsibly.

As they do during every New Year’s Eve holiday period, local law enforcement agencies will be out on area roads conducting stepped-up patrols looking for both drunk and drugged drivers.

Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy says if anyone is going to be out partaking in some adult beverages or even marijuana they need to make sure they have a safe ride home lined up - not just for the individual’s safety but for that of others out on the road. He told WHMI there are certainly a lot of reasons to celebrate the close of 2021 but people also don’t need to start out 2022 in a bad light either so he just asks that everyone be responsible.

Murphy commented that people tend to think about drinking or drugged driving but noted that laws changed a while ago and OWI or Operating While Impaired covers everything. He cited the high costs and consequences of getting arrested for OWI, compared to paying for a sober driver or some other ride service or other means to get home safely.

Murphy noted that back in the old days it was mostly alcohol arrests and people took a breathalyzer test. He said breathalyzer machines are really starting to become obsolete because there’s so much stuff out there now that people are ingesting. Murphy said most cops when making an arrest won’t even do a breath test anymore but instead just go straight for a blood draw and send it to the lab so they know exactly what’s in someone’s system. Murphy also noted that a person can be arrested for legal prescription drugs if they take too many and it impairs their ability to operate a vehicle.

Murphy said his suggestion is that people find a sober friend and pay them for a safe ride home or get a group together to rent a limo or a bus - which is a lot cheaper in the long run than $10,000 for an OWI arrest. He encouraged people to just be smart about things but added there’s always the option to stay home, watch the ball drop and ring in the New Year.