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Strong DUI enforcement planned for St. Patrick's Day in Carroll and statewide

Law enforcement in Carroll County will increase patrols over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

Across the agencies, law enforcement leaders have one united message: Don’t drink and drive.

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“Maryland State Police are urging those who plan to celebrate with alcohol to be safe and smart and avoid impaired and distracted driving,” the agency wrote in a news release.

MSP will have saturation patrols through all 23 state barracks to ward off an expected increase in incidents of people driving while impaired. Troopers will also be alert for aggressive and distracted driving, as well as substance use.

Saturation patrols refer to when a law enforcement agency concentrates more officers than usual in an area.

The extra enforcement hours are paid for with grant funds from the Department of Transportation’s Maryland Highway Safety Office.

Across the state, MSP troopers made 88 DUI arrests, 37 criminal arrests and 12 CDS arrests, as well a host of traffic citations last St. Patrick’s Day weekend, according to the release.

Maj. Richard Hart, who heads field operations with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, said the office will also have increased patrols on Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17, starting in the evening and continuing throughout the night.

State grant funding will allow for extra deputies to patrol with a focus on aggressive and drunk driving.

Hart said deputies keep a closer eye on bars and restaurants in case of fights, “but we don’t generally have too many of those.”

The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office is not planning to conduct any checkpoints this weekend.

Westminster Police Chief Jeff Spaulding said the department will not have extra staff for the weekend, but will maintain their full complement of officers.

“When they are not handling calls for service, they will focus on DUI enforcement and increased foot patrols in the downtown area,” he said. “The fact that St. Patrick’s Day is falling on a Saturday could result in heavier than normal patronage at area pubs, bars and restaurants.”

His message matched that of other area agencies. “Our hope is that citizens that choose to drink will exercise good judgment and ensure that they have access to a sober driver — rather than attempting to drive. We want everyone to arrive back home safe and sound at the end of the night. Those that choose to drive while under the influence risk injury as well as significant legal consequences.”

Crashes involving impaired drivers lead to more than 160 deaths and thousands of injuries per year, according to the Maryland State Police. Approximately one-third of the 522 deaths on Maryland roads in 2016 were caused by an impaired driver, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration.

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