OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. - St. Patrick's Day is a social occasion where alcohol is served generously, and all too often, people drive after they have too much to drink.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says his officers are increasing patrols and looking for individuals who may be drinking and driving.
Over 65 uniform officers will be patrolling communities in Oakland County alone. "St. Patrick's Day is a festive time, but too much ‘celebrating' causes problems," said Bouchard.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 700 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving drunk drivers during St. Patrick's Day from 2006 through 2010.
The Traffic Improvement Association (TIA) and the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP), as part of an impaired driving safety grant, are helping to fund extra patrols in Michigan to help keep citizens safe on the roads.
Bouchard says he knows first-hand what can happen when people drink and get behind the wheel. He once responded to an accident on St. Patrick's Day where three people were killed.
"It is crucial that individuals know their personal limitations and realize that while alcohol consumption is their own decision, once they get behind the wheel, it becomes a public matter," he said.
Bouchard wants to remind all drivers to exercise extreme caution when traveling on Sunday. His office has released tips to help spot dangerous drivers that may be on the road.
Signs to watch out for on the road:
- Drivers traveling 10 mph below the posted speed limit.
- Drivers who suddenly stops for no apparent reason.
- Watch out for drivers traveling too closely to other vehicles.
- Braking erratically.
- Inconsistent use of turn signals.
- Driving without turning headlights on.
- Drifting in a straight line at a slight angle to the roadway.
What you can do:
- Call 911 and report the driver: take note of the driver's exact location, be prepared to give an accurate description of the car including make, model, color and most importantly their license plate number.
- If you spot a driver you suspect has been drinking, do not follow him/her too closely, avoid them all together.
- Don't get so involved with what the drunk driver is doing that it causes you to compromise your own safety.
- If the driver stops, do not attempt to detain him/her, let police handle the matter.
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