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Law enforcement preparing for St. Patrick’s Day

Law enforcement and officers from the state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration plan to step up compliance and enforcement efforts ahead of the St. Patrick's Day holiday this weekend.

Agency spokesman Gig Robinson said the effort is a part of a multi-agency approach to cut down on underage drinking and drunk driving during the spring months.

He said a combination of factors - including St. Patrick's Day, the NCAA men's basketball tournament, high school proms and college spring breaks - tend to increase drinking in the spring.

As a result, officials increase their enforcement efforts.

"ABC is of course aware that during some holidays there may be more people drinking," Robinson said. "Commissioner (Ron) Moats is committed to ensuring the safety of patrons and the communities."

Robinson said the agency gets grant money to perform extra patrols and underage drinking checks during peak drinking times.

"We have grant money we received from Governor's Highway Safety Program that affords us the opportunity to do overtime and to go above and beyond our normal efforts," Robinson said.

"We build on our existing relationships we have with the state police, local sheriff's departments and city law enforcement, working together to make sure the laws are followed, people aren't being over-served and that alcohol is not being provided to those who are underage," he said.

St. Patrick's Day, which is Sunday, is one of the top drinking holidays of the year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, two-fifths of all deaths in crashes between 2006 and 2010 involved someone who was driving drunk during the St. Patrick's Day holiday.

More than 700 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving drunk drivers during that time period, 129 in 2010 alone.

In 2010, 80 percent of the St. Patrick's Day drunk driving deaths involved drivers whose blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit, NHTSA data showed.

Robinson said the ABCA encourages individuals who choose to celebrate to do so responsibly and be mindful of the risks.

"We encourage everyone to do their part, use a designated driver if they plan to go out and to just not to overdo it," he said.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at or 304-348-4836.



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