O'Fallon Progress

St. Patrick’s Day: County Sheriff’s ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Crackdown’

Luck won’t get people home safely this St. Patrick’s Day, but exercising common sense and forethought will, according to the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.

Village of Shiloh Police Assistant Chief Gary McGill, along with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department and the O’Fallon Police, encourage wise decision making for motorists to be cautious and safe while traveling from Friday, March 13, through Tuesday, March 17.

“I recommend folks, even if they’re not drinking, be vigilant of people who are,” McGill said. “Because it’s really the other car that could cause damage, not just theirs.”

“Although we aren’t doing anything specifically geared towards the holiday, we will assist the Sheriff’s department and-or the OPD as needed and it’s close to our jurisdiction, but our plan is to fully staff our patrol division,” McGill said. “We had no significant increase in calls for service last year or incidents as a result of the holiday.”

McGill offered some endearing advice to help parents of little ones who may go out to celebrate the annual Irish holiday.

“I always tell parents (who ask) that if they hesitate or have to wonder whether or not it’s a place for my children to be, chances are it’s not for kids, so try to find something to do where you know the temptation of drinking isn’t in your face,” McGill said. “Buzzed driving is drunk driving. I always tell people if they leave their kids behind with a sitter, then put their picture on your phone or on your dashboard so it acts as a reminder of what they have at home.”

OPD Captain Mark Berry said his department is already planning on staying alert over the weekend and into next week as the Tuesday holiday approaches.

“We will have directed patrols for traffic enforcement this weekend and on St. Patrick’s Day. Also, our Facebook page and website will post safety tips and reminders,” Berry mentioned.

County law enforcement plans to carry out “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Crackdown” on drunk drivers in the metro-east.

According to Sergeant Lee Graham, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department will conduct special patrols this upcoming weekend and on St. Patrick’s Day to crack down on drunk drivers.

In addition to looking for drunk drivers, the County Sheriff will be stepping up seat belt enforcement particularly at night when seat belt usage rates are lowest.

Unbuckled motorists also will be ticketed.

“We are reminding everyone this weekend through St. Patrick’s Day to drive sober and buckle up,” Sheriff Richard Watson said. “If you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a sober driver before the party begins. Be responsible or risk a DUI.”

“Too often, St. Patrick’s Day can be a deadly and dangerous time on our roadways because of drunk driving,” Watson added. “That is why starting March 13 and running through March 17 roadblocks (will be set up) to catch and arrest anyone who is driving drunk.”

Watson said always designating a sober driver and not letting friends drive drunk are just two simple steps to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for drunk driving.

“Driving drunk is a deadly decision and it is against the law. We will show zero tolerance,” Watson stated. “So remember, designate a sober driver before the party begins and always buckle up.”

The St. Patrick’s Day Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Crackdown is funded by federal traffic safety funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and administered through Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Transportation Safety.

If people are hosting a St. Patrick’s Day party:

• They can be held liable and prosecuted if someone they serve is involved in a drunk driving crash.

• They should make sure all their guests designate a sober driver in advance or help arrange ride-sharing with other sober drivers.

• They should serve lots of food and include lots of non-alcoholic beverages at the party.

• They should keep the phone numbers for local cab companies handy and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving drunk.

For people attending a St. Patrick’s Day party:

• They should designate a sober driver before the party begins and give that person their car keys.

• If they do not have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home, call a cab, sober friend, or family member to pick them up or just stay where they are and sleep it off until they are sober.

• People should never let a friend leave their sight if they think they are about to drive while drunk.

• Always buckle up—it is still the best defense against a drunk driver.