Police to Crack Down on St. Patty’s Day Celebrants Who Drink And Drive

Ceci Partridge & City News Service

The California Highway Patrol and municipal law enforcement agencies throughout Riverside County will be on the lookout Wednesday for motorists who attempt to try their luck driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs while celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

“The CHP is committed to making California’s roadways safe for all who use them,” California Highway Patrol Commissioner Amanda Ray said. “Remember to buckle up, slow down, don’t drive distracted — and never drive impaired. If you chose to celebrate, please do so responsibly by designating a sober driver or making other arrangements to get home safe.”

She noted that not only alcohol, but cannabis and prescription drugs, can impact a motorist’s driving.

According to Ray, last year on St. Patrick’s Day, 31 people were injured in DUI crashes statewide. In 2019, seven died and 116 were injured because of intoxicated driving, according to statistics.

In the CHP’s jurisdictions, 67 people were arrested on suspicion of DUI during St. Patrick’s 2020.

Nationally, there were 327 fatal alcohol-related wrecks on St. Patty’s 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

CHP offices in Beaumont, Blythe, Indio, Riverside and Temecula will join local law enforcement agencies countywide in the anti-DUI campaigns.

Multiple sheriff’s stations plan to deploy sobriety checkpoints and conduct saturation patrols to nab suspected DUI offenders.

“If drinking is part of your plan, then plan on designating a sober driver to find a safe way home,” said sheriff’s Deputy Frank Opice at the Temecula station. “Don’t make poor choices (like) mixing alcohol or drugs with driving.”

Officials noted that a DUI conviction can lead to suspension or revocation of driving privileges, fines upwards of $10,000 and possibly jail or prison time if injuries or deaths result from a collision.

“It’s simple: don’t drink and drive,” Opice said. “Stay at home or find a sober driver to take you home.”

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