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State police adding patrols, DUI checkpoints for New Year’s

MIDDLEFIELD— Connecticut State Police are setting up DUI checkpoints and ramping up patrols through New Year's Day in an effort to cut down on drunken driving.

Troopers conducted their first checkpoint in the area of Meriden Road shortly after 6 p.m. Friday and wrapped up two hours later given how cold it was. According to State Police, troopers pulled one driver aside for driving drunk and made several arrests for possession of marijuana.

In replacement of a checkpoint, troopers drove around the Middlefield and Middletown area to ensure all was quiet and drivers were staying safe on the roads.

“We’re going to see vehicles that swerve. There could be some inconsistent speeds, so our troopers that are out there on the roadways, that’s what they’re going to be looking for,” said Sgt. Eric Haglund of the Connecticut State Police.

With the light snow expected to hit Connecticut Saturday morning into the afternoon, it gave troopers another reason to reminder drivers to take it slow.

“Give yourself a little bit of extra time. Looks like we’re getting some snow a little later in the day, keep that in mind. Watch your speeds, give yourself plenty of distance as you’re traveling,” added Sgt. Haglund.

Troopers said drivers who get pulled aside are those who are usually coming back from Happy Hour or a house party.

Celtic Cavern, a popular restaurant and bar in Downtown Middletown said they are typically extra crowded this time of year.

“You know, obviously people that are going a little crazy, drinking shots, things like that … usually when they’re having one or two, that’s it,” said Brandon Warren, owner of Celtic Cavern.

Warren said as the owner, he feels it is his duty to make sure his customers get home safely by knowing when to stop serving alcohol to a person or a group.

“Use Uber. It’s a great tool. Obviously pace yourself. There’s no reason you need to do it all right now. There’s bars open until 2 a.m., 1 a.m.,” added Warren.

The agency said it planned to boost enforcement from Friday morning through the end of the holiday weekend.

A second DUI checkpoint will be conducted on I-91 Southbound near New Haven Saturday starting around 6 p.m.

The Hartford Courant reports that state police made 34 DUI arrests last New Year's and handed out 705 speeding tickets. The agency reported 276 crashes, which killed three people and injured dozens more.