From the Maryland State Police:
(Pikesville, MD) — Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Terrence B. Sheridan has ordered the deployment of additional State Police DUI saturation patrols in each county later this week to coincide with the increase in drinking and driving that occurs as a result of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“We know from experience that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations increase the number of drunk drivers on our roads and the risk of highway tragedies resulting from drunken driving crashes,” Colonel Sheridan said. “Our goal is to keep our highways safe and additional DUI patrols at each of our 22 barracks will help us do that. We do not wish to diminish anyone’s celebration. We want to remind people of their responsibility to use common sense, make plans ahead of time, and make a commitment not to get behind the wheel after consuming alcoholic beverages.”
A recent newspaper survey indicated more than half of Americans will be celebrating the holiday. Almost one third of those celebrating say they will be attending a party at a bar or restaurant.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 103 traffic crash fatalities nationwide on St. Patrick’s Day in 2009. Of those, 37 percent involved an impaired driver with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.
Maryland State Police DUI arrest numbers from 2010 clearly show the increase in arrests that occur during the period of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. During the five days before St. Patrick’s Day 2010, Maryland state troopers made an average of 16 DUI arrests per day statewide. On St. Patrick’s Day and the next four days last year, state troopers made an average of 38 DUI arrests, more than doubling the daily average of the week before.
In Maryland, a first offense for driving under the influence could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a sentence of up to one year in jail. In addition, the violation would mean 12 points on the offender’s driver’s license and a license revocation for six months. Driver’s licenses are confiscated by police from those refusing to take a blood alcohol test and from those whose test result is .08 or higher.
Those planning to drink alcoholic beverages are urged to make plans to get home safely before they begin drinking. Options include arranging for a sober driver, to whom you gave your keys, to drive you home; use a taxi; call a friend or family member to pick you up; or use public transportation.
State troopers are urging motorists to contact police if they see a driver who might be operating under the influence. Troopers and allied law enforcement will make every attempt to locate the driver and take the appropriate enforcement action.
The additional troopers deployed by State Police will be on overtime and funded through a DUI enforcement grant from the Maryland Highway Safety Office. All troopers on regular patrol duty will also be on the alert for drunk drivers.