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Forum staff reports, Published March 12 2009

St. Patty's Day police blitz aimed at drunken driving

Law enforcement officers in six states, including Minnesota, are combining efforts to crackdown on drunken driving through St. Patrick's Day.

Local, county and state police are participating in the holiday enforcement blitz to arrest impaired drivers and help prevent traffic accidents, according to a news release from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The enforcement blitz starts today and lasts Tuesday.

"St. Patrick's Day is supposed to be a time to celebrate Irish heritage and gather with friends, but it can quickly end in tragedy due to impaired driving," said Michael Witter, the Midwest regional director for the NHTSA.

The agency said statistics show that 851 have died in traffic accidents during the St. Patrick's Day holiday in the past five years. Of those deaths, 327 were killed in crashes involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more.

In Minnesota, that level of alcohol in the blood makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle.

Other states participating in the enforcement blitz are Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.