ELKHART — Many will be watching New Year’s Day football games, recovering from hangovers or just taking it easy today, Jan. 1.
Not Ron Davis.
While he may have down time, the Elkhart bail bondsman will also be on call — those arrested in connection with New Year’s party excesses Monday night or in the wee hours of this morning may need his help getting out of jail.
Getting phone calls for help at all hours of the night and day comes with the job, Davis said. On New Year’s Day, though, that activity seems to pick up, at least a little. There are more revelers out and about the night before and with heightened police patrols, the end result, potentially, is more drunk driving arrests and more people needing his services.
“Increased activity for all bail bondsman,” said Davis.
In fact, Monday morning, at least one Elkhart liquor store operator reported brisk business in the lead-up to New Year’s Eve celebrations.
“There’s people who come here and buy stuff they haven’t bought all year — or don’t usually buy all year — and that just seems to be the thing,” said A.J. Rodino, owner of Rodino Palmer Liquor Store here. Sales on Christmas Eve exceeded those of last year, and he was already seeing better sales as of 11 a.m. Monday compared to Dec. 31 last year.
Meanwhile, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department warned that authorities would be out in force New Year’s Eve, on the lookout for drunk drivers. During the holidays, designated sober drivers increase, but the number of drunk drivers also goes up, according to Sean Holmes, undersheriff in the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department.
“We would rather not arrest anybody over New Year’s, but we will if it keeps intoxicated motorists off the streets,” Holmes said in a press release. Crashes involving alcohol “are 100 percent preventable.”
The Elkhart County Traffic Safety Partnership — a coalition of sheriff’s officials and police departments — was to conduct drunk driving “saturation patrols” across Elkhart County, including the cities of Elkhart, Goshen and Nappanee, to augment safety. And the heightened efforts aren’t necessarily over.
Elkhart Police Department Lt. Laura Koch said heightened patrolling, typically up throughout the year-end holiday season, frequently lingers past New Year’s Day. It’s a short week for some, others take time off, and the parties can continue.
There were 103 crashes involving alcohol investigated by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department in 2012, at least through Monday morning, causing three fatalities and injuries to 40. In 2011, there were 95 crashes involving alcohol investigated by the sheriff’s department, causing six fatalities and injuries to 39.