Douglas County Sheriff’s Office ready for New Year’s Eve celebration at Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office ready for New Year’s Eve celebration at Lake Tahoe

Nevada Highway Patrol troopers give a warning to a New Year's reveler who was hoping to climb a pole in front of Harrah's Lake Tahoe during a past New Year's Eve.
Tribune File Photo |

While marijuana possession is legal in Nevada and California, smoking a spliff in public in downtown Stateline on New Year’s Eve will still earn someone at least a citation.

Douglas County is preparing for the annual New Year’s Eve celebration at Lake Tahoe on Monday.

The sheriff’s office is anticipating a larger crowd due to the proximity to the weekend. Last year’s crowd hovered around 5,000, with only a dozen arrests.

Authorities believe SnowGlobe music festival in South Lake Tahoe has drawn off some of the traditional crowd, which at one time was counted in the tens of thousands.

But that doesn’t mean authorities are doing any less to prepare for the crowd.

Due to the high volume of celebrants within the Stateline casino core area during this event, U.S. 50 may be closed to vehicle traffic in the evening if necessary for public safety. Should that occur, vehicle traffic will be diverted around the casino core area using upper and lower Lake Parkway Drive, Sgt. Ron Elges said.

“Drivers anticipating traveling through the Stateline casino core area on New Year’s Eve should allow themselves additional time to make it to their destination on time,” Elges said. “Drivers traveling the area in wintertime should always anticipate poor road conditions caused by winter weather. They should have snow tires mounted on their vehicle or carry tire chains or cables with them.”

Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies will have help in the casino core from officers from many other law enforcement agencies including the Nevada Highway Patrol, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, and California Highway Patrol. Supporting agencies include the Douglas County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, Douglas County Communications Center, Tahoe-Douglas Fire Department, California Department of Transportation and Nevada Department of Transportation.

Outgoing Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini has directed all deputies to adopt a non-confrontational approach in their contacts with the celebrants.

“This method of enforcement has been extremely effective in past years,” Elges said. “The goal of the sheriff’s office is protecting life and property while at the same time allowing celebrants to enthusiastically ring in the new year.”

There are behaviors that will not be tolerated by law enforcement.

Incidents that will most likely result in an arrest include acts that place celebrants or law enforcement officers in jeopardy; including acts of rowdy behavior, fighting, throwing projectiles, vandalism, theft, narcotic violations, severe public drunkenness, possession of or discharge of fireworks, minors consuming or possessing alcohol, or any other act that disrupts the goal of achieving a peaceful and safe environment for all in attendance.

People planning to attend the New Year’s Eve celebration in the Stateline area are reminded that per Douglas County Code, glass or metal containers, regardless of contents, are prohibited in the casino core area on New Year’s Eve.

Any such containers, including their contents, will be confiscated. Alcohol or other liquids should be in a plastic cup, paper cup or similar container.

Parents must be mindful of their children’s whereabouts and activities, especially during the New Year’s Eve celebration.

The crowd that gathers in the casino core for the event is not intended for juveniles.

“Each year during the event, a large percentage of contacts and arrests are made of persons under the age of 21,” Elges said. “The curfew in Douglas County is midnight on Dec. 31. Persons under the age of 18 are subject to citation for being in violation of this ordinance. Persons under the age of twenty-one who are in possession of alcohol or who have consumed or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be subject to arrest.

Elges reminded those partaking in marijuana that it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or consume.

“It is also important to remember that will be still against the law in 2018 to drive a vehicle under the influence of marijuana,” he said.

While much of Monday night’s enforcement will be focused on Stateline, Elges said a full complement of deputies and NHP troopers will be patrolling the rest of the county looking for drunken drivers.

He suggested anyone who consumes alcohol during their celebration catch a ride with a sober driver or contact a driving service.