Missoula Police are sending out a clear message for anyone attending a New Year's Eve party, drive sober, or get pulled over.

Traffic Sergeant Greg Amundsen said on Friday, December 27, that extra officers will be on patrol even beyond New Year's Day pulling over drunk and distracted drivers.

"Every single night we're putting out an extra officer or two," Amundsen said. "We started before Christmas and we'll continue through January 5 through the new year, so we'll catch both the weekends where there might be holiday parties."

Amundsen said the aim of the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign is to change the behavior of party goers before the drinking actually begins.

"What the police department wants to accomplish is for people to make alternative plans, such as choosing a designated driver, getting dropped off, or calling a taxi rather than celebrating at a party and driving home yourself after you've been drinking," Amundsen said. "It's important to make these decisions before you start drinking, because then you become impaired and you might do something that you weren't intending. My biggest advice is that you just make arrangements to be dropped off, and you don't even have your car there."

Amundsen said once you've been pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, your holiday is officially over.

"If we do pull you over, we'll put you through the roadside tests just to confirm you've been drinking, then we'll ask you to blow into the portable intoxameter, then take you to the jail where we will process you for DUI, following which we typically will book you into the jail," Amundsen said. "It's much more than just spending the night in jail. You'll get charged, you have to go to court and if you're found guilty there are fines and legal fees. Following that, there is the loss of your license and a big increase in the cost of insuring your vehicle. All that can be avoided if you just plan ahead and find a different way to get home than just driving yourself."

Missoula Police Traffic Sergeant Greg Amundsen

One safe way to get both an individual and their vehicle home safely is through the Triple A (AAA) Tipsy-Tow program. According AAA insurance representative Kendra Rebish, the service is available in Missoula, Helena, Bozeman and Billings. Just call 1-800-AAA-HELP for a free, confidential ride home from either Red's or Sparr's Towing. From within the city limits, call for a free tow to within a 10 mile radius of the pickup location. Operation Tipsy Tow is available through January 2, 2014. You do NOT have be a member of Triple A to take advantage of Tipsy Tow.

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