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Drunk Driving: Over the Limit. Under Arrest.

Don’t Push Your Luck This St. Patrick’s Day

(Harford County, MD – March 13, 2007) — Drunk driving is one of America’s deadliest crimes. In fact, during 2005, nearly 13,000 people were killed in highway crashes involving an impaired driver or motorcycle operator with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

In 2005, 59 percent of all traffic fatalities that occurred during the evening of St. Patrick’s Day to the early hours of the following morning involved drivers with a BAC of .01 and higher. Of those, 89 percent involved a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher. This year, the risk may be even greater since St. Patrick’s Day festivities will take place on a Saturday night.

That is why the Harford County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with the Bel Air Police Department and the Maryland State Highway Administration to conduct a sobriety checkpoint in the Bel Air area over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday weekend. This enforcement effort will continue throughout March where law enforcement agencies in Harford County will concentrate on aggressive driving and drinking and driving offenses.

“St. Patrick’s Day has become a big night out for many Americans—especially young adults. Because the holiday falls on a Saturday this year, we’ll be working even harder with sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols and using undercover officers to get more drunk drivers off the road,” said Sheriff L. Jesse Bane. “If we catch you driving impaired, we will arrest you.”

Driving with a BAC of .08 or higher is illegal in every state, but too many are still not getting the message. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, more than 1.3 million people were arrested for driving under the influence during 2005.

Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Joe VanSeeters said that always designating a sober driver before the party begins and never letting friends drive drunk are just two of several simple steps to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for impaired driving. Other important tips include:

  • Plan ahead: Whenever you plan on consuming alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys
  • If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely
  • Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement
  • And remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

Drunk driving is simply not worth the risk. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving impaired can be significant. Violators often face jail time, the loss of their driver’s license, higher insurance rates, big attorney fees, unpaid time away from work, and dozens of other expenses.

“No matter what you drive—a passenger car, pickup, sport utility vehicle or motorcycle—if you are caught driving impaired, you will be arrested,” said Bel Air Police Chief, Leo Matrangola. “So don’t push your luck this St. Patrick’s Day. Remember, Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.”