St. Patrick’s Day is known for many things — leprechauns, shamrocks and, yes, green beer. That last aspect of the holiday, which often includes excessive drinking, is why the Alexandria Police Department is reminding people not to drink and drive this weekend. Starting on March 17, Alexandria police will substantially increase enforcement of drunk driving laws with a mobile detail. The drunk-driving crackdown will begin around 8 p.m. on March 17 and continue into the early morning hours of March 18.
Additional officers have been assigned to patrol major corridors, targeting motorists who commit hazardous moving violations and exhibit other behaviors that may indicate a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The last crackdown initiated by the Police Department was on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, when police arrested five motorists who were legally intoxicated. In 2006, the department had a total of 489 drunk-driving arrests.
The maximum penalty in Virginia for a first conviction for driving under the influence is 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine and a 12-month suspension of driving privileges. In addition, there are mandatory jail term sentences associated with these offenses, depending upon the blood alcohol content of the driver.
Police officials say that one way to avoid driving under the influence is by participating in the SoberRide program, sponsored by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program. Drivers who feel they have had too much to drink can call 1-800-200-TAXI (8294) for a free cab ride home between 4 p.m. on Saturday and 6 a.m. on Sunday.