Several hundred Baltimore and state police officers will be saturating the city's bar districts this St. Patrick's Day weekend, looking for drunken drivers and people drinking in the streets, law enforcement officials announced Thursday.

"Roadways in and around Baltimore will be heavily patrolled," Baltimore police patrol commander Col. Garnell Green said. "Plan ahead. Have a designated driver. Know where you're going to park and expect large crowds."

Maryland Transportation Administration Police and Maryland State Police are teaming with city officers on a crackdown of rowdy behavior that plagued Canton Square last year, when residents complained of scores of people drinking openly outside bars, breaking glass and leaving trash strewn all around.

Green said police will be on foot in the square, as well as other entertainment districts, watching for open container violations. Officers will also be working with the Baltimore City Fire Department, enforcing bar capacity limits. Police will also be looking for underage drinkers, as well as curfew breakers who will be taken to the Central District Police Station for parents to pick up, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

With increased foot patrols at the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Canton and Federal Hill, police are hoping to avoid a repeat of the violence that flared up across the city last year. Authorities struggled to handle hundreds of teens fighting last St. Patrick's Day weekend in the Inner Harbor and downtown, where several witnesses say a tourist from Northern Virginia was beaten, robbed and stripped of his clothing near the east building of the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse.

jgeorge@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/justingeorge