LAPEER COUNTY — Whether it's celebrating Christmas with eggnog or the New Year with a toast, the holidays and sitting behind the steering wheel don't always mix.
Regardless of the season, there's a vigilant police force on the lookout for drivers who take that risk. Last Tuesday the Lapeer County Mothers Against Drunk Driving and county police chiefs association recognized those officers who keep our roads safe.
Local officers receiving awards included Imlay City's Rob Evoy, Almont's Andrew Martin and Dryden's Matthew Blair.
Lapeer County Sheriff deputies Chad Whitt and Dave Winstead were also awarded among others from North Branch, Metamora and Lapeer Twp.
Imlay City Police Chief John Stano said Evoy was a three time award winner.
"He's one of the hardest working officers we've got," Stano said.
Almont's Martin has also been recognized numerous times for his knack for catching drunk drivers. Chief Pat Nael said Martin makes at least 60 arrests each year. He believes others' claims that Martin has a sixth sense for smelling alcohol and drugs on drivers.
"He does a heck of a job," Nael said.
"We get a lot of other officers that try to catch up to him."
Chief Larry Pack nominated Blair for Dryden's award. He was a full-time officer from 2005-July 2007 before moving to the sheriff's department. Blair nabbed 12 drunk drivers in his last seven months with Dryden, Pack said.
"He's been a go-getter right from the start," Pack said.
A special award was also given to Lapeer County Central Dispatch. Director Vic Martin said citizens deserve a lot of the credit.
"The citizens are the ones that call it in and we in turn bring them to you," Martin said to the officers.
Geoff Stuart of the prosecutor's office was also recognized. Prosecutor Byron Konschuh said he nominated Stuart for his work with juveniles in probate court.
Alcohol is the leading drug abused by teenagers, Konschuh said. Statistics show the average age that someone has their first drink is 12. By the time a teen reaches 15, half of them have consumed alcohol. Early alcohol abuse has been shown to be a precursor to domestic assault and other criminal activity.
Those are just some of the reasons Stuart has participated in things like a victim impact panel.
"It's just one of the keys to reaching first time offenders," Konschuh said.