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Law enforcement will be on the lookout for impaired drivers on St. Patrick's Day

Both the Turlock Police Department and the California Highway Patrol are advising people to not rely on the luck of the Irish when it comes to impaired driving.

Both agencies are planning on stepped up operations on St. Patrick's Day in an effort to stop drunk drivers on area roads.

California’s public health guidance advises to limit mixing with people you don’t live with as much as possible to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Although many St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will be held virtually this year, it’s important to designate a sober driver or stay at home for the night.

The Turlock Police Department will have officers on patrol from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 2 a.m. Thursday looking for drivers suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

“If drinking is part of your plans, plan on designating a sober driver and find a safe way home," said Turlock Police Lt. Russell Holeman. "Don’t make poor choices and allow yourself to mix alcohol or drugs with driving.”

The CHP also will be on alert for any impaired drivers and is reminding residents that alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to an arrest for driving under the influence.  Cannabis, prescription medications, and illegal drugs can all lead to impaired driving.

Throughout the country, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that in 2020, 327 fatal alcohol-related crashes occurred on St. Patrick's Day.

In California, the CHP made 67 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol on St. Patrick’s Day last year.  Data from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System shows alcohol-or drug-related crashes resulted in injuries to 31 people.

“Think of your safety and that of others before deciding whether it is safe for you to drive,” Office of Traffic Safety Director Barbara Rooney said. “We urge all drivers to make getting home safely part of your celebratory plans.”

Anyone spotting a suspected impaired driver should call 911.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.