Local law enforcement officers will be ramping up patrols for the Great American Lobster Race, and the Aiken Department of Public Safety is reminding festival-goers that drunken driving, underage drinking and gross intoxication will not be tolerated.
The event draws crowds of more than 10,000 people each year to the Newberry Street Festival Center and The Alley. In addition to Aiken Public Safety, the Aiken County Sheriff's Office will also be providing law enforcement for the event, and the S.C. Highway Patrol will be upping its DUI patrols.
“They always beef up their patrols, assisting with extra DUI patrols and enforcement in the areas surrounding Aiken and the main thoroughfares leading to and from downtown,” said Sgt. Jake Mahoney, a spokesman for Aiken Public Safety.
While underage drinking isn't a common problem at the event, Mahoney said officers will be on the lookout for it.
“Every year, there will be one or two arrests made because of drinking violations,” he said. “There will be uniformed officers as well as plain clothes officers looking specifically for the alcohol violations and helping us to identify anyone who is grossly intoxicated or becomes disorderly. That's proven to be very effective in the past for helping us to maintain a good healthy, friendly environment.”
Beer and wine will be permitted in plastic containers in the confines of the Lobster Race venue, Mahoney said. He emphasized that liquor will not be allowed at all.
Festival-goers who are 21 or older and want to purchase alcohol inside the event will have to show their ID at the entrance, at which point they will be able to purchase a bracelet that indicates they can consume alcohol.
The event will end at 11 p.m., at which point, anyone who wants to continue celebrating will have to go elsewhere. Mahoney said officers encourage attendees to use taxi services for a ride home if they've had too much to drink.
“Every year, the taxi companies have a very steady supply of customers,” he said.
Motorists who see impaired drivers are asked to call 911 and note the license plate information, vehicle description and the vehicle's direction of travel.
“Have a good time, enjoy it – just don't overindulge,” Mahoney said.
• Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.