Port St. Lucie police on patrol to stop drivers under the influence

Posted at 10:31 PM, Nov 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-23 23:36:29-05

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Bars and restaurants are welcoming people to celebrate the Thanksgiving break.

"It's thanksgiving eve, it's one of the national party days kind of around the nation at this point," said Brandon Rush, the assistant general manager at Recovery Sports Grill.

Rush said on Wednesdays they have live music and with it being the night before Thanksgiving, he anticipates big numbers.

"I'm expecting to have a whole bar full," said Recovery Sports Grill bartender, Chelsie Abeln. "I talk to them before I serve them to make sure that they haven't been out drinking beforehand, and also check how much they've been drinking every hour to make sure that everyone gets home safe.

Rush said staff is trained to cut people off and offer to order patrons a ride home if they've had too much to drink.

"You gotta spend time with family tomorrow so think about that, think about your family, think about enjoying yourself but think about being safe out there," said Rush.

Recovery Sports Grill is situated between two hotels that are within walking distance and expect a lot of foot traffic.

Also gearing up for a busy night is Port St. Lucie Police.

The department has dispatched officers throughout the city to spot and arrest drivers under the influence.

“The things that I'm looking at right now are a variance of speed, people that are stopping too close or too far from intersections at a red light, people that are asleep at green lights is typically a dead giveaway, and people that failing to maintain a single lane,” said Officer Keith Appelbaum with the Port St Lucie Police Department.

The department said from Jan. 1, 2022, through Nov. 21, 2022, the agency has made 212 DUI arrests throughout the city and issued 44,476 traffic warnings/citations.

"Our goal isn't to arrest people tonight, it's to assure the safety of our community," said Appelbaum. “We pride ourselves in being the safest city in America and that begins with traffic safety.”

According to Forbes, a DUI can cost $20,000+ depending on attorneys, court fees, and probation costs.

"Port St. Lucie has grown quite quickly in size, which means we have seen more cars on the roads," said Appelbaum. "We're a city of almost 200,000 now the likelihood that there are more drunk drivers out there is higher than 212 arrests."

“What are some of the excuses people give you when they get pulled over for a DUI?” asked WPTV Reporter Joel Lopez.

“The number one DUI excuse I get is ‘I only live around the corner." You might very well live around the corner, but it doesn’t give you the justification to put others at risk," said Appelbaum.

If you're out celebrating, PSLPD recommends assigning a designated driver, using a ride-sharing service, or staying home and celebrating at your house.

AAA released a report citing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration saying that during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, over 800 people died in crashes involving a drunk driver between 2016-2020.

They have activated their 'Tow to Go' service for the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend for people to call if they need a safe ride.

That number is 855-2-TOW-2-GO.