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DUI patrol watching for St. Patrick's Day revelers | Pierce County

For drinking drivers, it will take more than a four-leaf clover to avoid a DUI this St. Patrick's Day.

Officers, deputies and troopers from Pierce County law enforcement agencies will team up Saturday, March 17 to apprehend impaired drivers in Puyallup who leave bars and house parties without a sober driver at the wheel. A similar emphasis patrol last year netted 34 arrests on St. Patrick's Day.

Within an hour of each arrest, law enforcement officers affiliated with the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force will visit bars and residences where impaired drivers tell them they had last been drinking. Four police chiefs, along with officers from the Washington State Liquor Control Board, will assist with the licensed premise visits as part of the task force's Home Safe bar program.

"We're asking everyone who anticipates driving after drinking to make the right call: secure a designated driver before stepping out, or call a taxi," said Deputy Chief Bryan Jeter of the Puyallup Police Department.

To assist celebrants, bartenders and patrons will receive "Click It 2 Ride" cards with a toll-free number for local taxi companies. Drinkers without designated drivers will be able to scan their cards with a smart phone to connect directly with local cab companies.

"A $20 cab ride is a smart choice compared to a DUI, which can easily cost $5,000 in fines, fees and higher auto insurance rates," said Fircrest Police Chief John Cheesman, chairman of the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force.

Law enforcement agencies in Pierce County and throughout the state will conduct holiday DUI patrols from March 9-18. Over a similar time period last year, 161 motorists in Pierce County were arrested for DUI. Approximately 150 were arrested in 2010.

Both the DUI patrol and Home Safe Bar program are funded by local law enforcement agencies and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

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