Enjoy that green beer on St. Patrick's Day, but officers in blue will be watching

Authorities today warned Southlanders that officers will be out in force looking for people driving under the influence or otherwise committing traffic violations during St. Patrick's Day.

"St. Patrick's Day has become one of the nation's favorite holidays to celebrate and party,'' said El Monte police Chief David Reynoso. "Unfortunately, too many people are taking to the roads after drinking, making the holiday one of our most dangerous.''

The California Highway Patrol will conduct a four-hour sobriety/driver's license checkpoint at an undisclosed location in the East Los Angeles area beginning about 8:30 p.m., the agency said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 252 people lost their lives in drunk driving-related crashes during the St. Patrick's Day holiday period from 2011-2015 nationwide. More than a quarter of
those people died in drunk-driving crashes that occurred in the early morning, post-party hours.

"Please enjoy St. Patrick's Day in a safe and responsible manner, by not drinking and driving,'' Reynoso said. "Remember it only takes one impaired driver to change the lives of many forever.''

Reynoso urged people to use a designated driver or other safe methods to get home if they are planning to drink.

Also, authorities publicized the "Designated Driver VIP'' -- or DDVIP -- free mobile app for use with Android or iPhone.

The app helps find nearby bars and restaurants that feature free incentives for the designated sober driver -- from free non-alcoholic drinks to free appetizers and more. The app also has social media tie-ins and even a tab
for the non-DD to call Uber, Lyft or Curb.

Authorities urged people to call 911 immediately if they see a dangerous driver.

Funding for extra patrols is provided in part by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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