Merced police officers will be looking for impaired drivers this St. Patrick’s Day weekend, according to Merced Police Sgt. Dan Dabney.
Dabney said saturation patrols began Friday and run throughout the weekend.
A DUI and driver’s license checkpoint will be set up at an undisclosed location within the city. The checkpoint will begin Sunday and run into Monday morning, according to Dabney.
The checkpoint is funded by grants from the Office of Traffic Safety, according to Dabney.
Dabney said officers will not only be looking for drivers under the influence of alcohol, but also drivers who may be under the influence of marijuana.
“Any time there is a time to celebrate people should be afforded the opportunity to go out and have fun. The main thing is to be responsible,” said Dabney.
Dabney said those celebrating should make sure to have a designated driver or use alternate methods such as an Uber.
Officers will also be looking for impaired drivers even if they do not exceed the 0.08 blood alcohol limit.
“What statistics have shown, is some people have high tolerances and some have low tolerances. It’s not necessarily 0.08 that can get you in trouble.” Dabney said.
The California Highway Patrol said that 131 people were involved in DUI collisions on St. Patrick’s Day in 2018. Additionally, 285 DUI arrests were made on St. Patrick’s Day last year, according to a news release.
March 17 has been described as one of the deadliest holidays on American roads by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to the news release.
Authorities said that during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period in 2017, 37 percent of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers.
“Drinking and driving don’t mix,” said Office of Traffic Safety Director Rhonda Craft in the news release. “We want people to enjoy the holiday, but be responsible about how they get home once the celebrations end.”