Law officers plan crackdown on drunk drivers on and around St. Patrick’s Day

DES MOINES — A week-long, statewide traffic enforcement program will be launched this Wednesday as Iowans plan to celebrate the upcoming Saint Patrick’s Day weekend.

Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau chief Brett Tjepkes is reminding Iowans to take it easy on the green beer, lest they make a potentially-deadly mistake by getting behind the wheel. “St. Patrick’s Day is one of our nation’s most popular holidays. There’s a lot of festivals, parades, parties, and drinking alcohol comes with that,” Tjepkes says. “The amount of alcohol that’s consumed is higher than average around Patrick’s Day, so we’re just encouraging people to make good decisions and that includes to refrain from driving while intoxicated.”

Tjepkes says law enforcement officers across the state will be on the lookout for lawbreakers. “The Iowa State Patrol, sheriff’s departments, and police departments across Iowa are going to be looking for intoxicated drivers,” Tjepkes says. “We want people to make good decisions and we want them to have fun, but we don’t want that day of fun to turn into a tragic or devastating time by driving while intoxicated and injuring themselves or others.”

If you find yourself drunk and stranded with your vehicle, Tjepkes says to give the keys to a sober driver who can safely drive you home. And if you have a friend who is about to drive drunk, he says to take away their keys and help them get home safely. “Last March, there were 26 traffic fatalities on Iowa’s roads and almost 40% of those happened the week of St. Patrick’s Day. We know that there’s an increased amount of drinking, and drinking and driving,” Tjepkes says, “and so planning ahead, designating a sober driver or calling a taxi or an Uber or Lyft service would really be a good decision if somebody’s had too much to drink.”

Tjepkes says to be on watch for pedestrians, as an increase in alcohol consumption and pedestrian traffic can be a dangerous combination. If you’re on foot, he says, cross streets in well-lit areas and use the crosswalks.