Police say slick roads and potential for drunk drivers is a "recipe for disaster"

Slick roads cause a truck to swerve in Mishawaka. //WSBT 22 Photo

The combination of dangerous weather and the potential for drunk driving as people ring in the new year could be a disaster waiting to happen according to local police.

In St. Joseph County, seven police departments come together to work overtime during the New Year's Eve Weekend .

The overtime is paid for by a grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

Police are hoping this will be the 7th New Year's in a row with no fatalities in the county, but with the slick roads added to the mix, staying safe is that much harder.

Some people have already had to change their plans because of the road conditions.

Lou Poulos spent Saturday night at a bar with a friend instead of his girlfriend because she was unable to make the drive from Kalamazoo.

"She drove here this afternoon, turned around 20 minutes South of Kalamazoo because the lake effect snow was causing whiteouts that were just making driving so difficult that she just turned around and went back," said Poulos.

With another round of lake effect expected, his plans may permanently change.

"Looks like I might be facing a New Year's Eve with no plans and nothing to do because of the stupid snow," said Poulos.

The police are also worried about the snow, but they are also worried about the potential for drunk drivers.

"The concern is one that we still have too many drivers driving too fast for weather conditions," said Lt. Tim Williams with the Mishawaka Police Department. "When we have a holiday like this coming up, we have to be concerned about the drinking and the driving. With the weather added to that, that's a recipe for disaster."

Extra police officers will be out all weekend to make sure the roads are safe. Lt. Tim Williams says even on slick roads, they know how to spot a drunk driver.

He signs up to work overtime every year on the holiday because to him the mission is personal.

"I'm a victim of a drunk driver. I know what it's like. I have permanent scars that will never go away," says Williams. "I've seen families have to deal with victims of drunk driving that have life-altering injuries that will never change."

Lt. Williams says while he was on the job he responded to a situation where he ended up being dragged by a drunk driver, so that is why he is so passionate about the issue.

He asks that everyone has a plan on how to get home safely before going out.

The county's additional enforcement lasts until 6 am Tuesday.

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