Suncoast police urge residents to ring in the new year safely

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SARASOTA - Members of the Sarasota Police Department and Bradenton Police Department are urging Suncoast residents to begin the new year with a safe start by not discharging firearms into the air Monday night and not driving while intoxicated.

Historically some individuals have celebrated the arrival of the New Year by firing a weapon in the air. But the Sarasota Police Department is reminding residents that firing a weapon in the air is dangerous and illegal.  A bullet fired into the air is going to come down and the unintended consequences can be tragic.

The Bradenton Police Department agrees.  “It's a crime, and potentially deadly, especially in a densely populated area like the City of Bradenton. When a bullet is fired in the air, it must come down, and when it does it descends at a velocity great enough to cause serious injury or death to an innocent person. If you hear gunfire within the City of Bradenton, even if you do not where it came from, we ask that you contact the Police Department, because other residents may know who committed the criminal act," says Captain Warren Merriman.

If part of your celebration includes drinking, police urge you to plan ahead by avoiding driving while impaired. There are safer and less expensive ways to travel: use a designated driver, take a taxi, or take advantage of the free Tow To Go service offered through AAA.

AAA is offering its Tow-to-Go service overnight Monday. It's free, confidential, and you don't have to be a AAA member. Just call 1-800-AAA-HELP, and they will send a tow truck to give you and your vehicle a lift home.

Sarasota Police will be out in force and there will be no tolerance for the dangerous act of driving while intoxicated.