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Reminder: Extra DUI enforcement St. Patrick's Day weekend

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drunk driving accounts for almost a third of U.S. traffic fatalities each year.

DUI can also get you arrested, and a Tennessee DUI conviction is a very serious matter. During the 2017 St. Patrick's Day enforcement push, 103 people were arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Make a plan to avoid driving under the influence

Before you grab your first green beer, remember to make a concrete plan for a sober ride home. This might mean designating a sober driver among your group of friends. It could mean contacting a ride hailing service. You might take public transportation or call a taxi. Whatever you decide, have your plan in place before you drink -- drinking affects your judgment and can make it harder to plan.

Watch out for saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints

The Tennessee Highway Patrol and local law enforcement will be engaging in extra DUI enforcement over the entire weekend. This includes extra officers on the roads as part of saturation patrols, along with sobriety checkpoints and other efforts toward visible enforcement.

"Our enforcement efforts will focus on traffic violations that are hazardous," a spokesperson for the highway patrol said in a statement last year. "We will not tolerate driving reckless or under the influence. These actions endanger yourself as well as others. We have a responsibility to ensure the public's safety, and we hope our visibility and enforcement techniques will encourage motorists to obey traffic laws."

This year, the number of people arrested for DUI over St. Patrick's Day weekend is likely to be higher than average, if only because the holiday occurs on a Sunday. Many people will probably choose to celebrate on Saturday. Others will don their green and party on Sunday. That means two days when a greater number of people than usual will become intoxicated.

The penalties for a first-time DUI in Tennessee are harsh

Don't take a risk with drunk driving. Remember that the consequences for a DUI conviction are serious and can affect you for years to come:

  • Between 2 days and 11 months, 29 days in jail (at least 7 consecutive days if your blood alcohol content was 0.20 percent of higher)
  • A fine of between $350 and $1,500
  • 1-year driver's license suspension
  • Possible court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment
  • An ignition interlock device installed and maintained in your car at your expense
  • Possible victim restitution
  • Costs for towing, court costs, bail, treatment, license reinstatement fees
  • Mandatory high-risk insurance

If you are arrested for DUI over St. Patrick's Day, contact an experienced defense attorney right away.

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