State, local police will be out for St. Paddy’s weekend DUI patrols

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Drivers should expect to see more state troopers and local police officers out on the roads this weekend as people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Millions of Americans will party this weekend to celebrate the holiday, but police want to remind revelers to plan for a safe ride home, too.

According to Virginia State Police, the number of drunk drivers on the road on March 17 makes St. Paddy’s Day one of the deadliest holidays. Every 72 minutes during the holiday, a life is claimed in an alcohol-related crash.

Between 2011 and 2015, 252 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes during St. Patrick’s Day nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Virginia State Police will be increasing patrols to find and stop those who drive under the influence. Suffolk police will also have more officers out patrolling.

“Buzzed or drunk driving puts everyone’s life at risk,” says Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Impaired driving claimed 241 lives on Virginia’s highways in 2015 and each of these deaths was 100 percent preventable. There is no excuse for it when today’s technology allows you to call for a ride at the press of a button. A rideshare will cost you a few dollars, but driving drunk could cost someone their life.”

The NHTSA has a SaferRide app that can help call a taxi or a friend for a ride home. Apple users can find more information about the app here while the Android version is available here.

To ensure a safe holiday weekend, plan before you party:

  • Make sure you have a designated sober driver before any drinking begins.
  • If you’ve been drinking, use a taxi, get a ride from Uber or Lyft, call a friend or family member or stay where you are if possible.
  • Drinking and driving is a crime. If you witness a drunk driver on the road, dial #77 on a cell phone for the nearest Virginia State Police Emergency Communications Center or call 911.
  • Remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride a motorcycle while impaired, take the keys and help them find a way to get to where they are going safely.