- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Police departments throughout the region are increasing security on the roads for St. Patrick’s Day, while local restaurants and bars are taking extra precautions to promote the safety of their patrons.

“Our message is, ‘Don’t test your luck on St. Patrick’s Day,’ ” said Assistant Chief Patrick Burke of the Metropolitan Police Department. “We encourage people to have a plan before they go out - there’s no reason, especially in the District, to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.”

Chief Burke said D.C. police will be out in force for the Irish holiday, manning checkpoints and increasing the number of patrolling cars throughout the day.

State police in Maryland and Virginia will put in place measures like saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints as well.

“The state police doesn’t have a problem with people celebrating their Irish heritage, but what we do ask is that people make informed decisions and drive responsibly,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

The Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) also is offering impaired revelers free cab rides home, up to a $50 fare. More than 200 people last year used the SoberRide program, whose sponsors include popular Irish bars and restaurants.

The Dubliner pub on Capitol Hill - which participates in the WRAP program - also plans to have more security on hand than usual and keep pathways clear throughout the restaurant to provide a safe St. Patrick’s Day environment, said general manager Gavin Coleman.

Other bars, like Fado Irish Pub in Northwest, will be increasing security precautions and participating in the WRAP program as well.

“The key for prevention and safety is well-trained bartenders who know not to overserve people and enough security to keep people moving and look for problems,” Mr. Coleman said.

The SoberRide program will be offered from 4 p.m. Tuesday to 4 a.m. Wednesday in the District; in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland; and in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties in Virginia.

Residents can call 800/200-TAXI (8294) for a ride home.

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