This week, Saint Patrick’s Day revelers should plan on doing so responsibly. Stepped-up patrols will mean increased scrutiny for people who choose to drink and drive.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, March 13-19 of last year saw 225 alcohol-related car accidents and 11 fatalities. To prevent more impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel this year, law enforcement agencies across the state are once again increasing the number of patrols conducted through the weekend.

The St. Patrick’s Day “Booze It & Lose It” enforcement campaign is led by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. Director Mark Ezzell recommends taking public transportation, calling a cab, or a friend following a night of drinking.

The first offense penalty for driving while impaired in North Carolina is a one-year driver’s license suspension and a $10,000 maximum fine. The state’s beefed-up statewide patrols will continue through Sunday, March 19.

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