New Year’s Eve is a time for celebration. And for many, that includes alcohol. While police said they understand the desire to party, they also said they want people to think ahead to get home safely.
For those who drive drunk, a first-offense DUI can cost $750 to $1,000 in addition to at least 48 hours in jail. The second offense can cost up to $1,750 and at least five days in jail before probation. On the third offense, the DUI can be considered a felony.
The city typically sees a spike in the number of DUI citations filed following New Year’s Eve. That’s because more people are drinking and driving, Wichita police Lt. James Espinoza said.
He said Wichita police officers will have “probably a little less” presence on the streets Wednesday night, with 50 to 60 officers and supervisors working.
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“We will have plenty of officers to respond to 911 calls and enforce the law,” he said.
Sheriff’s Lt. Lin Dehning said that department will have about the same amount of officers on the street as any other Wednesday night.
Espinoza and Dehning said they are not aware of any plans for sobriety checkpoints, but officers will be looking for impaired drivers throughout the night.
To avoid problems, Espinoza recommends finding a designated driver, staying overnight with friends or calling a cab if you have consumed alcohol.
The newest way to get around without turning on your ignition is Uber, which was introduced in Wichita in August and is similar to a taxi service. But unlike a taxi service, drivers use their own cars and are hailed through a smartphone application that is available on Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices.
Waiting until the last minute may be too late to get a timely cab, said Cody Pendleton, a dispatcher at the Best Express cab service. He said reservations for the evening can be made; however, there are no New Year’s Eve specials.
Waiting also may be expensive if you plan to use Uber due to its dynamic pricing model, called Surge Pricing. With this model, prices automatically “surge,” or go up, during times of high demand. Uber predicts Wednesday night to be its busiest night ever.
Uber driver Joel Gutierrez said a ride that would normally cost $20 could cost $40 to $60 in the prime time of New Year’s Eve.
Uber uses this pricing model because it helps bring “supply and demand into line,” said Lauren Altmin, a regional spokeswoman for Uber.
When prices are higher in high-demand areas, drivers have an incentive to go to those areas and pick people up so they make more money. With more drivers in the area, waiting times don’t suffer due to high demand.
Uber predicts the highest demand will between 12:30 and 2:30 a.m.
While there are many options to choose from, Dehning said he wants people to have a plan before the end of the night.
“Think of this stuff in advance,” he said. “You don’t want to have to think about it when you are intoxicated.”