Police gear up for first blitz of the year

Drivers who get behind the wheel after a few drinks will have nowhere to hide today as the region's police hit the roads in big numbers.

Wollongong and Lake Illawarra police are planning extensive random breath test operations to keep alcohol-affected motorists off the road.

Wollongong Acting Sergeant Mal Elliott urged people celebrating the New Year to take their cars out of the equation.

"Have a plan B, which is park the car, leave the car and the keys and make other arrangements to get home," Sergeant Elliott said.

"Find a way to deter yourself from driving, think about the consequences - if you lose your licence, how is that going to affect your family life and your work life?"

Although the message was clear, Sergeant Elliott said drivers were still rolling the dice when it came to taking the wheel the morning after a big night.

He said P-plate drivers had to be particularly careful as their blood alcohol limit could not exceed zero.

Calculating how long to wait before driving could also be tricky, with people often caught out when consuming non-standard-sized drinks.

Sergeant Elliott said he hoped the large police presence on the roads would act as a strong deterrent to people tempted to take a risk.

"We just want people to be safe and have a good end to the year, we don't want people to start the year on a bad step and facing criminal charges," he said.

About 10.30pm on Sunday, Wollongong police stopped a 55-year-old man for a roadside breath test on Crown Street, only to discover he had allegedly been banned from driving until 2035.

He has been charged with mid-range drink-driving and disqualified driving.

NSW police have cited the incident as just one example of irresponsible driver behaviour from day 10 of Operation Safe Arrival.

The region's NSW Ambulance paramedics and St John Ambulance volunteers were last night gearing up for their busiest night of the year.

Last year, paramedics responded to several serious incidents, including the rescue of a 56-year-old man who suffered head injuries after diving on to rocks at Belmore Basin during the Wollongong fireworks.

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