LAKELAND, Fla. - After eight people were killed in the past 44 hours in Polk County crashes, Sheriff Grady Judd said he doesn't want to see any more deaths during the holiday week. Instead, he said deputies can give rides those who become too intoxicated during the New Year's celebrations – as a last resort.
During a press conference Wednesday, the sheriff described each accident, including the quadruple fatal that occurred Monday. The others involved people who were "highly suspected" to be under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.
With New Year's Day around the corner, along with the celebrations that come with it, Sheriff Judd told those living in Polk County that they should have a designated driver in place, or use the AAA Tow-to-Go program – which is being offered through the weekend even for non-members – or to call an Uber.
If all options have been exhausted, he said to call the sheriff's office.
"If you don’t have a friend, a relative, you can’t use tow and go, you can’t find Uber, call the sheriff’s office," he offered. "We’ll get you home rather than have you get you out on the road and kill yourself or someone else.
But once you get on that road and that deputy turns the lights off, the deal is off. We’re still going to give you a ride, but at that point you’re going to jail."
The phone number to the sheriff's office's non-emergency line is 863-298-6200.
Sheriff Judd described the roadways during the holiday season as "bumper-to-bumper" leaving less room for errors.
"And it’s even more bumper-to-bumper when our northern visitors are here," he described. "There’s no room for people to get out of your way. Eight people are dead in the last 44 hours from vehicle crashes. That’s got to stop. That’s someone’s mother, father, sisters, brothers, cousins, friends."