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St. Patrick's Day: Take a free ride, avoid a DWI

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: March 17, 2014 - 11:09 AM

Lots of folks will be wearing the green and celebrating St. Patrick's Day Monday, but don't down too many of those Irish-themed cocktails and plan on driving.

The State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies will have extra officers on the roads Monday in hopes of dissuading people from drinking and getting behind the wheel.

St. Patrick's Day is a busy day for police who over the past five years have arrested 1,450 motorists for drunken driving. In addition, there have been 1,768 crashes resulting in nine fatalities between 2009 and 2013. One of the fatalities included a drunk driver, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).

Authorities are particularly concerned about this year since the holiday falls on a Monday.

"Long-weekend holiday celebrations can make for a potentially dangerous situation on our roads," said OTS Director Donna Berger. "Be smart, keep safe and plan ahead for a sober ride if you plan on drinking."

The options include having a designated driver or taking cab.  Or there also is option to take a free ride on public transportation.

The Met Council have teamed with Miller Lite to provide free rides on metro area buses, light-rail trains and the Northstar Commuter lines operated by Metro Transit, SouthWest Transit, Anoka County Traveler and the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority.

Free rides will begin at 6 p.m. Monday and be offered until the last scheduled trip. About 25 bus routes and light-rail trains have service that continues beyond midnight.

More than 1 million rides have been provided since the Miller Lite Free Rides program began in the Twin Cities 17 years ago.

On another St. Patrick's Day or night note, the I-35W Bridge in downtown Minneapolis will be lit tonight in celebration of St. Patrick's Day in both green and orange.

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