Warwick police aim to put a lid on drunk driving this St. Patrick’s Day

Law enforcement agencies said they'll be cracking down on people driving under the influence on St. Patrick's Day. (WJAR)

Law enforcement agencies said they'll be cracking down on people driving under the influence on St. Patrick's Day -- but it’s a warning they’ve been giving all along.

Despite wide-spread police efforts, drivers just aren't getting the message.

"Why is it that some people feel as though they can drive after they've been drinking?” retired Col. Richard Sullivan, RIDOT Law Enforcement Highway Safety Liaison, asked during a news conference at the Warwick Police station Thursday.

In February, Warwick police said two people were killed by drunk drivers within the city on the same night. One of them, was a healthy 82-year-old man, while the other was an 8-year-old boy.

“I mean, this is just unacceptable, and we're not going arrest our way out of this situation,” Sullivan said.

While Warwick police feel as if their arrests aren't driving the message home, officers are still stepping up DUI patrols.

They've already arrested 70 people who were driving under the influence in 2017. That's roughly one drunk driver arrested every day in Warwick so far.

The numbers maintain consistency with previous years, as there were 348 arrests in Warwick in 2016, and 303 arrests in 2015, according to police.

Law enforcement agencies across the state said they're getting tired of repeating themselves.

"I mean, it's just one of the most frustrating things,” said Warwick Police Capt. Rick Rathbun.

NBC 10 News asked if anything will be done differently to address social hosts and restaurant liability in serving alcoholic drinks to potential drivers.

Rathbun said a day earlier, police approached every spot in Warwick with a liquor license to discuss ways to keep intoxicated people off the roads.

For the third year, Warwick police are advertising a free, safe-ride program for Friday.

Residents are urged to call 401-468-4200 for a ride anytime between the hours of 12 noon and midnight on St. Patrick’s Day.

Citizen volunteers will be dispatched to various establishments to provide safe rides.

Police said last St. Patrick’s Day, a driver under the influence killed a pedestrian in Providence.

They say St. Patrick’s day has turned into “a very deadly holiday” and they hope it will be “crash-free” this year.

The Breath Alcohol Testing Mobile Unit, or B. A. T. Mobile Vehicle, will also be in service this weekend, to expedite DUI arrests.

But officers said they can only do so much, and the rest lies with the public.

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