State Police To Ramp Up Patrols For St. Patricks Day Weekend - Southern Maryland Headline News

State Police To Ramp Up Patrols For St. Patricks Day Weekend

MARYLAND - Maryland State Police announced today that they will be deploying extra troopers statewide this St. Patricks Day weekend in an effort to reduce the number of collisions and apprehend impaired drivers.

Troopers will be participating in driving under the influence initiatives all across the state this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sobriety Checkpoints and saturation patrols have been scheduled by barrack commanders to detect and apprehend impaired drivers. Many of the initiatives have been scheduled to coordinate efforts with county and city police departments.

The Maryland State Police say they have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to driving under the influence. Drivers are strongly encouraged to plan ahead and designate a sober ride home. Police say drivers should call a taxi, call a sober friend, or make arrangements to stay the night after consuming alcoholic beverages.

Impaired driving is no accident–nor is it a victimless crime. In 2005, nearly 13,000 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or a motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08 or higher, according to NHTSA. Each year, impaired drivers are involved in numerous crashes, often injuring themselves and other motorists. Many of the alcohol related collisions end tragically with fatal results.

In 2005, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), 59 percent of all traffic fatalities that occurred in the United States during the evening of St. Patrick’s Day to the early hours of the following morning involved drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .01 and higher. Of those, 89 percent involved a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher. This year, the risk may be even greater since St. Patrick’s Day festivities will take place on a Saturday night.

“St. Patrick’s Day has become a big night out for many Americans — especially young adults. But it has also become a dangerous night on our roadways due to impaired drivers. And, since St. Patrick’s Day falls on Saturday this year, we are working hard to remind everyone to designate a sober driver before their parties begin,” said Charles County Sheriff Rex W. Coffey. “Too many people still don’t understand that alcohol and driving just don’t mix. Too many lives are being lost and we need everyone’s help to stop it.”

For a safer St. Patrick’s Day, police and the NHTSA offer these reminders:

· Plan ahead: Whenever you plan on consuming alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys;

· If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely;

· Use the Safe Rides program provided by Lifestyles of Maryland. Call 1-866-293-0623 between 4 p.m. March 17 and 3 a.m. March 18;

· Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement using the 9-1-1 system (cell phone users can also dial #77 for State Police)--the life you save, could be your own;

· Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

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