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Oneida Co. Sheriff's Office beefing up St. Pat's patrolsSubmitted: 03/14/2013

Lane Kimble
Managing Editor/Anchor
lkimble@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - Don't expect to get away with drinking and driving this weekend.

On a weekend when everyone's a little Irish, the Oneida County Sheriff's Office wants you to be more than a little smart.

Oneida County will beef up drunk driving and seatbelt enforcement the entire weekend. They're able to do that thanks to a $12,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Sheriff's Lieutenant Lloyd Gauthier knows the holiday brings out many more people than an average weekend.

"The possibility of people driving while impaired, and that concerns us," Lt. Gauthier said.

"Our motto at the Sheriff's Office is we're committed to our community. And a big commitment is safety. Wanting people to get out and enjoy the time, have a good time. But take advantage of the programs that are out there through the Oneida County Tavern League, including the Safe Ride Home program."

That Safe Ride program is available at any participating Tavern League Bar. All you have to do is ask a bartender for your free ride.

Lt. Gauthier says people seem to be drinking more responsibly the last few years.

But he also points to a disturbing statistic: more than 500 traffic deaths in Wisconsin last year.

"That's why the DOT is so focused on getting these grants out each year," Gauthier said. "They see that there is a positive side to it with additional enforcement that those numbers are coming down."

The DOT gives out the grants based on where they see roadways that could be safer.

This grant is broad. That means Sheriff's Patrols could be on any road, both county and city or town.

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Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) signed a bill lifting the decades-long ban on switchblades on Saturday at a 
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Walker said this gives people another option for protection, and it also can help first responders at accidents.

"Say at a crash to take someone out of a harness or seat belt or other things like that," Walker said. "And again, the bottom line is as it is with firearms, the people you are worried about are already possessing these, law abiding citizens should at least have access to that in the state of Wisconsin."

This new law applies only to people who are legally eligible to own a gun.

"The same provisions apply," Walker said. "If someone's prohibited from possessing a firearm, say they're a felon, they are not able to possess a firearm the same way with a knife under the senses. But with a law abiding citizen, it just makes sense that if they're following the law, they're looking to protect themselves and their families, this gives them one more tool to do that as well as first responders."

Under this new bill people can also carry concealed knives of any length without a concealed carry license.

FORCE, or Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs and Educators, is an association chartered by the NRA. 

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- Tonight on Friday Night Blitz we will bring you scores from high school games all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following boys basketball games:

D.C. Everest vs. Wausau West

Antigo vs. Mosinee

Rhinelander vs. Tomahawk

Marshfield vs. Merrill

That will be tonight on Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10.

We'll have this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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