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Published March 13, 2012, 09:58 PM

Authorities Plan Increased DWI Patrols This St. Patrick's Day

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - St. Patrick's Day is fast approaching and a lot of people like to celebrate the Irish holiday, even if they're not Irish. And in Minnesota, more people out at the bars means more law enforcement out on the roads.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - St. Patrick's Day is fast approaching and a lot of people like to celebrate the Irish holiday, even if they're not Irish.

And in Minnesota, more people out at the bars means more law enforcement out on the roads.

The Minnesota State Patrol, along with other law enforcement agencies, are gearing up for a busy weekend.

"We're not trying to tell people that they can't go out and have a drink, but be smart about it and try to find somebody to give you a ride," Polk County Sheriff's Department sergeant Phil Juve said.

Many people celebrate St. Patrick's Day, whether it be going out to the bars, to house parties or parades.

"We're going to be out looking for those people that got behind the wheel when they shouldn't have and make sure everyone that goes out this weekend gets home," Minnesota State Patrol trooper Michael Hanson said.

Officers say they have seen an increase in the number of people drinking and driving on St. Patrick's Day, especially when it falls on a weekend.

The last time the holiday was on a weekend was in 2007. 527 people were arrested for DWI in Minnesota and three traffic deaths were alcohol-related.

"Like New Year's eve, everybody plans ahead and it's really become kind of a boring night for law enforcement. But Superbowl Sunday and St. Patrick's Day have gone the other direction. Those are days we've seen a substantial increase in the number of alcohol-related problems that we see on the road," Hanson said.

Officers hope if people drink, they will make the right decision and not get behind the wheel.

"We deal with a lot of injured people pretty regularly where there's been alcohol involved," Juve said.

Over the past three years on St. Patrick's Day, there were 606 drivers arrested for DWI in Minnesota.

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