March 15, 2013
Charlottesville Police will be keeping extra eyes on the roads this St. Patrick's Day weekend to prevent drunk driving.
"It's a deterrent more than anything else," said Lt. Ronnie Roberts with Charlottesville Police. "That's the whole issue is to try to change driver behavior."
Police say March 17 ranks right up there with Super Bowl Sunday and the Fourth of July for drinking driving. They think Saturday night will probably be the worst of it.
Officers will be working overtime, visiting DUI hot spots, and watching for people weaving in and out of lanes or driving recklessly.
Those caught will face harsh penalties.
"You're placed in the back of either a mobile van or the back of a police vehicle," said Roberts. "You can pretty much expect to stay overnight at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail."
And the penalties will continue, long after the drunk driver is sober and out of jail.
"Those fines could be anywhere from $2,000 and up," said Roberts. "It continues to go up, over the years, especially from the insurance aspect. So it's a host of inconveniences when you can actually spend $20 to ride a cab."
Police will focus on Emmet Street and High Street, among several other locations.
They say, if you're celebrating, it's all about having a plan before you go out. A challenge with St. Patrick's Day is it doesn't usually have organizations offering free cab rides, like on New Year's Eve.
Police say, make sure to plan ahead for a cab or a designated driver.