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DPS roadblocks begin tonight

Department of Public Safety is hoping for a peaceful holiday season this year as the annual holiday enforcement program gets underway this evening.

Deputy police commissioner Leseiau Laumoli told Samoa News that the road blocks are set to begin at 6 p.m. every evening up to Jan. 2, 2012 at unannounced locations island-wide, with the goal to ensure safety on the highway during the holiday season.

Besides the roadblocks, police will also beef up patrol throughout the island to maintain peace and harmony among the community during the holiday, he said.

He urges drivers not to drink and drive, and if a person plans to consume alcohol, they should find a designated driver before leaving home or place of employment. Another choice is to call a taxi to take you home if you are planning on consuming alcohol at a night club or at a party, he said.

Leseiau also called on parents to refrain from giving family cars to their teenagers during this time of the year, but instead, have an adult accompany the youngster, to ensure the safety of all those who will be on the highway.

Government officials are also reminding all night club and tavern owners to comply with local laws which prohibit the selling of beer and alcohol after 2 a.m. For stores selling beer, the time to stop selling is 10 p.m. And since Christmas Day and New Year’s Day both fall on a Sunday, these night clubs and bars are reminded by the government that is against the law to sell these beverages on Sundays. The only exceptions are hotels and restaurants.

Leseiau said police officers will also be checking on bars, night clubs and stores to make sure they abide by local laws.

Although police have not yet officially began their annual holiday enforcement program, some local residents were taken into custody over the weekend for driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI). There were nine of them that appeared in District Court on Monday morning — among them was a former assistant attorney general and a former senator.

Leseiau emphasized that the goal of this enforcement, which is carried out throughout the nation during the holiday season, is that American Samoa enjoys Christmas and New Year accident and incident free.

He said Police Commissioner Tuaolo M. Fruean wants to make sure that there are no lives lost during the holiday season and that everyone enjoys this special time of the year with their family and friends.

The deputy police commissioner said this time last year was a good one for the territory except for two incidents, which were not the result of DUIs, but were alcohol related.

One incident occurred in Masefau during a village dance when a man, who was on island visiting, hit the victim with a beer bottle. The victim fell to the ground and hit his head on something hard, and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The second case was on Aunu’u where an older brother admitted to strangling his bed-ridden brother to death, after a 24-hour drinking binge.

Samoa News reporters Ausage Fausia and Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.