Police prepare for drunk drivers on New Year's Eve

By Eric Flack

(LOUISVILLE) -- WAVE 3 Investigates the Louisville Metro Police Department's new plan to take down drunk drivers on New Years Eve. For the first time in years, there will be no DUI checkpoints in the city. That's because police say the roadblocks have stopped working, and they  found something that does. WAVE 3 Investigator Eric Flack has more.

New Years Eve is one of the most dangerous nights of the year on the road thanks to drunk drivers. DUI checkpoints used to be the way Louisville Metro Police tried to keep you safe.

But not anymore.

"When you're in a roadblock you have all your resources in that one location, and you're hoping the possible drunks are going to flow through," said Lt. Doug Sweeney, head of the LMPD traffic division.

"So instead of putting all our eggs in one basket so to speak, focusing in one location, I can send out 14 to 16 cars, and have 'em be in various locations around the city," Sweeney said. "Expanding the net so to speak."

That net is called a saturation patrol. Officers cruise the hot spots looking for drunk drivers. Lt. Sweeney demonstrated as he drove on the Watterson Expressway.

"This car ahead of me on the left, lets imagine he's speeding and he's hugging that yellow line or he just drifted over," said Sweeney. "Well now I've got somebody I'm probably going to go and pull over."

During its DUI crackdown last New Years Eve, saturation patrols led to 9 DUI arrests. The DUI checkpoint netted a grand total of 0 drunk drivers. So Lt. Sweeney says there will be no checkpoints this year as police focus all their efforts on roaming the streets. Meanwhile, bar owners will be trying to make sure their customers aren't the ones police are looking for.

"We've always worked hard at having communication between bar staff, management staff, door staff," said Tom O'Shea, owner of 3 Louisville Bars.

O'Shea says recent legal trouble for local restaurants  accused of  over serving drunk drivers who went on to kill someone in a wreck, has led his staff to be much more vigilant.

"It does, in our staffs mind, make them much more aware," O'Shea said. "There has been talk through those guys about those incidents, so it helps us keep them aware."

Indiana State Police also say their DUI crackdown this New Years Eve will also involve all saturation patrols, as they too are finding it to be more effective than the checkpoints.

The one place you will see some checkpoints is out in rural areas of Kentucky. Kentucky State Police say in those areas, checkpoints continue to be the most effective tool.

Online Reporter: Eric Flack

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway