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Bars, drivers cautioned: Be safe

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Police will be watching out for drunk drivers over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend and the state is reminding bar owners of their responsibilities.

Columbus police will set up a checkpoint on Sawmill Road, south of Martin Drive, Friday night from 9:00 p.m. until about 3:00 a.m. Saturday, Sgt. Michael Smith said.

The Franklin County DUI Task Force will crack down on impaired driving Saturday with a sobriety checkpoint near the Ohio State University campus.

More than 78 local law enforcement agencies around the state will be conducting more than 2,100 hours of enforcement activity and 1,900 hours of saturation patrols in addition to 15 sobriety checkpoints, funded by federal grants provided through the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Ohio Traffic Safety Office.

The State Highway Patrol says five of six traffic deaths over last year’s holiday weekend were alcohol-related and troopers will be working with local law enforcement to remove impaired drivers as part of the National Highway Safety Administration’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.

Meanwhile, with the holiday and the start of NCAA men’s basketball’s March Madness the state is also reminding bar owners: “It’s your Bar, It’s your Responsibility.”

“This time of year often means big business for many of Ohio’s bars, however we hope bars and their staffs take proactive steps before the reveling begins. It is our hope that with proactive steps, the bar scene will be safer,” said Agent-in-Charge Eric Wolf of the Ohio Investigative Unit, the arm of the Department of Public Safety charged with enforcing the state’s liquor laws.

Wolf says bar owners should remind staff not to serve customers who are already drunk and to discourage excessive consumption of alcohol. Wolf recommends that bar employees call the police if they encounter an overly intoxicated or combative patron. Bars are encouraged to have plans for cab services and food options.

Wolf says over-serving or serving underage customers can mean costly fines, suspension or revocation of liquor permits.

 

St. Patrick’s Day is a popular night to celebrate but has also become a very dangerous night on the roads.

The Highway Patrol says drunk drivers killed five of the six people who died in traffic accidents during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period last year.

Over 700 fatalities occurred nationwide in crashes involving drunk drivers during the holiday between 2006 and 2010, including 129 in 2010 alone, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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