DUBAI // New Year's Eve revellers who plan to drink alcohol tonight have three options: use public transport, have a designated driver or spend the night at the party venue, prosecutors said yesterday.
Anything else could land them in jail, the Dubai Chief Traffic Prosecutor Salah Bu Faroosha said.
"Traffic cases involving driving under the influence are the most dangerous," he said.
Of the 7,256 traffic cases investigated this year, 1,092 involved driving under the influence of alcohol, he said. The number was slightly down on 2009, when there were 1,155 cases.
"Some of the drink-driving offences in 2010 resulted in death, grievous bodily harm and excessive property damage. We have also pressed the traffic court to suspend the licences of drivers who are caught drinking," he said.
Licences were suspended for 859 offenders, or 78 per cent of drivers involved in drinking cases, he said. The suspensions last three to six months.
There is a zero-tolerance policy towards driving under the influence, Mr Bu Faroosha said. A legislative amendment in 2007 increased the penalties. Any person caught driving under the influence of alcohol faces up to three years in prison, a minimum fine of Dh20,000, or both.
"I would like to advise our fellow drivers to be aware of the traffic regulations and penalties involved with drink-driving. We want them to be mindful and not infringe on the rights of others during this time of year," Mr Bu Faroosha said.
His message was echoed by one of Dubai's leading alcohol sellers. "At this time of year we would advise consumers of alcohol to do so in a responsible manner and to be particularly mindful of the laws and customs of the UAE," said Damon Tudor, general manager of customer service, corporate marketing and retail development at African and Eastern.
"It is important to drink responsibly and don't overdo it. Everyone should be mindful of their own limits," he said. "They should also be aware that it is illegal to drive with any alcohol in your system, so we would strongly advise using one of the many taxi services or the Saferdriver service that operates here."
Saferdriver, a transport company set up in 2006, is a service for hotel and bar customers to have their cars driven home by experienced chauffeurs.
"With the rugby sevens, Christmas and New Year's Eve, December is by far our busiest month," said Hasan Lazem, its sales and marketing manager.
"We handle between 1,500 and 2,000 bookings a month, and especially every New Year's Eve there is at least a 20 per cent increase. We have prepared by having more cars and drivers on standby, and we are expecting the crunch time to be between midnight and 4am," he said.
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said all public transport services, including the Dubai Metro, would run until 3am tomorrow.
"This change comes in response to the public desire to have the Metro service hours extended during New Year's Eve, which will be marked by a variety of activities, including the massive fireworks display at Burj Khalifa, which is set to attract thousands of visitors," said Adnan al Hamadi, chief executive of RTA's rail agency.
Last trains will depart from Ibn Battuta and Al Rashidiya stations at 2am. Service hours of public buses, water buses, abras and water taxis will also be extended, he said.