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Tri-State police to be patrolling on St. Patrick's Day

March 17, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Most Tri-State area police agencies will have additional officers on patrol tonight in anticipation of St. Patrick's Day festivities.

The Washington County Health Department has joined forces with highway safety and law enforcement officials to remind those planning to drink alcohol to act responsibly and designate sober drivers.

"St. Patrick's Day has become a big night out for many Americans ...," said Melissa Lewis, program coordinator at the Health Department. "But it has also become a dangerous night on our roadways due to impaired drivers."

Maryland State Police in Washington and Frederick counties will have additional troopers working roving patrols and sobriety checkpoints, police said.

The State Police Hagerstown Barrack will conduct a sobriety checkpoint sometime this weekend. Police said the exact date, time and location was not being released.

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"The object is education and awareness," Lt. Greg Johnston said.

The checkpoint supports Checkpoint Strikeforce - a multi-state enforcement effort supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, police said.

Johnston said additional troopers will be looking for speeding or drunk drivers this weekend.

State Police at the Frederick, Md., barrack will have twice as many troopers on the road on St. Patrick's Day, 1st Sgt. Chris Sasse said.

Troopers also will have a sobriety checkpoint.

"Shame on the person who drinks and drives that night," Sasse said.

Washington County Sheriff's deputies will have additional patrols for drunken driving enforcement and other traffic violations, Lt. Travers Ruppert said.

"More people are inclined to go out and drink and have a good time at bars," he said.

West Virginia State Police in Charles Town and Berkeley Springs said they were not aware of any additional efforts over the weekend.

Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg and McConnellsburg said the number of troopers on the road would remain the same.

"It's not one of our major holidays," said Cpl. R. Marshall in Chambersburg. "There's not a lot of activity. Well, no more than usual."

In 2004, 48 percent of all traffic fatalities on St. Patrick's Day evening to the following morning involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .01 or higher, according to data provided by the Health Department.




Avoid wearin' o' the cuffs

The following are steps compiled by the Washington County Health Department to help avoid a crash or impaired driving arrest:

· Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast.

· Pace yourself. Eat enough food, take breaks and alternate with nonalcoholic drinks.

· Designate a sober driver before the party and give that person your car keys.

· If you don't have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend or family member to drive you or stay where you are.

· Never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive while impaired.

· Always buckle up.

For details go online at www.StopImpairedDriving.org.

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