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For the week of Dec. 22, 1999 through Dec. 28, 1999

Holiday driving

DUIs or parking penalties—a Catch-22


By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer

The holiday season can present any number of challenges for drivers in the Wood River Valley, not the least of which are winter parking regulations, which prohibit vehicles being parked on city streets during late-night snowplowing hours. The regulations can result in a nearly $100 penalty and impoundment if a driver leaves a vehicle parked on a city street overnight.

More importantly, the regulations present a particularly nasty Catch-22; that is, people leaving a bar or party with too much alcohol in their system might opt to drive home rather than risk having a vehicle towed.

Of course, if they’re stopped by police, or cause a serious accident, the consequences are much worse.

With a DUI conviction costing potentially thousands of dollars and possibly resulting in a jail sentence and suspension of driving privileges, drinking and driving is "just not worth the chance," Ketchum police Capt. J. T. Creviston said during a telephone interview.

Local law enforcement, who will be out in peak numbers throughout the holidays, say the Catch-22 is just a fact of life in the Wood River Valley and that drivers simply need to plan ahead by taking a taxi or by assigning a designated driver.

However, they’re not unwilling to help anyone who fails to plan ahead. Officers in all four cities said they would do whatever they could to get a vehicle off the street, if that meant the driver would find some other way to get home.

Creviston suggested that anyone needing assistance call the police station.

"If they let us know, we’ll work with them," he said.

The parking regulations, which prohibit parking on city streets between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m., cause a problem most often in Ketchum, where a large number of people go to bars and where there are very few places to park besides on the street.

In any local city, drivers whose cars are towed should expect to pay from $65 to $90 for towing, about $5 per day for storage and from $5 to $43 for the parking citation.

Even though the same parking situation exists in Hailey, Bellevue and Sun Valley, in those cities there are usually alternative places to park off the public right-of-way.

If you like to drink in Bellevue, consider yourself lucky. That city’s officers often call local bars before plowing begins to let drivers know to move their vehicles, said Marshal Jeff Gunter.

All in all, it’s probably best to leave the car at home and take a taxi, or assign a designated driver.

Throughout the valley, city police and the sheriff’s department will have extra officers and deputies on duty looking for DUI offenders.

Ketchum police, in particular, will be stopping drivers for "any violation whatsoever," Creviston said, in their search for DUIs.

"The bottom line is," he said, "people should plan ahead."

 

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Copyright 1999 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.