Area law enforcement officials plan a crackdown on impaired motorists this weekend as part of a national campaign, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," during St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office has a DUI sobriety checkpoint scheduled beginning Friday at an undisclosed location. The operation is planned to reduce the likelihood impaired drivers will operate vehicles on area roadways while educating the public about the dangers and criminality of driving drunk.
Citizens are encouraged to avoid the risk of driving if they consume alcoholic beverages during what is traditionally a holiday celebrated with green beer and other libations.
"While it may take several drinks for someone to become legally impaired, impairment begins with the first drink. Drunk driving is not a victim-less crime," the Sheriff's Office reminds citizens in a news release.
In 2011, there were 570 alcohol-related crashes in Lee County resulting in 25 fatalities, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Across the state, 920 lives were lost in alcohol suspected crashes while injury crashes totaled 8,262 resulting in 11,816 injuries in 2011.
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office also is expected to continue its series of static sobriety checkpoints and roving operations this weekend to target drivers who choose to drive after consuming alcohol or drugs
The Sheriff’s Office's Safety and Traffic Enforcement Bureau reminds drivers to plan for a safe ride home before heading out for the evening, or to call a friend, or take a taxi.
"If you plan to go to a bar, a restaurant, party or event where alcohol will be served, select a designated driver ahead of time. Remember, a designated driver is not the least impaired driver," according to the news release. "Also, "Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk." If you know someone who is about to operate a motor vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely."
Motorists also are encouraged to help by calling 9-1-1 to promptly report drunk drivers to law enforcement.