Increased police patrols planned for St. Patrick’s Day

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Increased law enforcement will be on alert in and surrounding Whitefish and Flathead County area this St. Patrick’s Day weekend to crack down on impaired driving.

The Montana Highway Patrol will also be out statewide patrolling to deter and detect drunk drivers.

In the U.S., one person dies in an alcohol-impaired vehicle crash every 50 minutes. On St. Patrick’s Day — one of the deadliest holidays on the nation’s roads — this rate only increases. During the 2012-2016 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period, 269 lives were lost in drunk-driving crashes.

Drunk driving isn’t just deadly, in all 50 states, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of.08 or higher. In Montana, if you are pulled over and found to be impaired, you will receive a DUI, get your license revoked, and possibly receive jail time and up to $10,000 in fines. The consequences are more severe for repeat offenders.

“If you’re planning on drinking this St. Patrick’s Day, plan ahead for sober transportation,” said Chief Dial of the Whitefish Police Department, “It’s really that simple. Designating a sober driver can save you time, money, and possibly your life.”

The high-risk period starts on Thursday and goes through the holiday weekend, and Montana law enforcement will have extra patrols out on the lookout for impaired drivers during the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to prevent injuries and fatalities on the roadways.

The public can join in on this effort by ensuring sober transportation for all friends and family members and calling 911 to report any suspected drunk drivers on the road. In all situations, wearing your seat belt continues to be the best defense against impaired driving.

Increased traffic safety patrols are funded by the Montana Department of Transportation.

For more information, contact Charity Watt, Montana Department of Transportation, 406-444-3439, cwatt@mt.gov.

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