Beware of DUIs and high tides

Written by Jessica Cejnar, The Triplicate December 31, 2013 11:06 am

As Del Norte rings in 2014, residents are reminded to be safe on the roads and near the ocean.

Local law enforcement officers are encouraging New Year’s Eve revelers to either not drink too much or have a designated driver available if they do over-indulge. Special DUI checkpoints aren’t planned for the holiday, but extra officers will be policing city streets while the California Highway Patrol keeps watch over the local highways.

“You have to take into consideration that we’re the only incorporated city in the county,” said Sgt. Erik Apperson of the Crescent City Police Department. “Even though our city limits or city population is often considered to be relatively small, everybody comes into the city daily. And on holidays like this, even more so.”

Due to the potential increase of DUIs over New Year’s, the Crescent City Police Department is conducting a saturation patrol, said Police Chief Doug Plack. Having extra 
officers on duty is typical for Crescent City during major holidays, but Plack said the Police Department will also increase patrols during Halloween or other minor holidays that people celebrate with alcohol.

For folks who don’t have a designated driver and don’t want to call a cab, AAA is offering its Tipsy Tow service for members and non-members. Steve Clay, the owner of Northcrest Auto Center, said the Tipsy Tow service will take folks and their cars home up to a distance of 10 miles for free.

Clay said he has been participating in AAA’s Tipsy Tow service since the mid-1990s, but his company has yet to get a phone call.

“People here, they think they can drive,” he said. “But wait till they get pulled over or get arrested or have a wreck. We encourage them to simply call. It’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about.”

To access the Tipsy Tow service, drivers, potential passengers, party hosts, bartenders and restaurant managers can call 800-222-4357. 

Meanwhile, those visiting Del Norte’s beaches over New Year’s can expects high tides above 8 feet, according to Troy Nicolini, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service. Tides can rise quickly on beach slopes, potentially stranding those who aren’t paying attention, sometimes for hours, he said.

“If you get stranded you might have to stay four hours until the tide goes back,” he said. “Some people who think they can make it back go really close to the water or even in the water, which makes you vulnerable to sneaker waves.”

A previous sneaker wave warning on the North Coast subsided Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service’s website. But beachcombers should still keep a close eye on the ocean, Nicolini said.

“Waves can be dangerous even if we don’t have sneaker wave conditions,” he said. “The reality is, people can get in trouble at the beach for a variety of reasons. We flag this particular hazard because we see a lot of people who get in trouble during sneaker wave events.”

Sneaker waves, large waves that seem to come out of nowhere, can pull beachgoers into the ocean, according to the National Weather Service. They often occur suddenly after a series of smaller waves, catching people off guard. They can be particularly hazardous on steep beaches, rocks or jetties.

For more information on local weather and beach conditions, visit www.weather.gov/eureka.

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