Law enforcement cracking down on drunk driving ahead of St. Patrick's Day

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) Officers in Eastern Carolina are warning you not to drink and drive ahead of a holiday known for drinking beer.

Members of the Governor's Highway Safety Program kicked off their statewide Booze It And Lose It campaign to keep people drinking alcohol this St. Patrick's Day off the road.

Blue lights were flashing at DUI checkpoints in the East Thursday night as officers worked to catch drunk drivers. Officers say the checkpoints catch other lawbreakers too-- from people driving without licenses to people carrying drugs.

"If we can come together as a community and work together to make sure that a patrolman doesn't have to go knock on parents door then we're making a big stride," said Gillian Smith an ECU student who helped pass out flyers to raise awareness about the Booze It And Lose It campaign.

The Governor's Highway Safety program said drunk driving is more common on the holiday. More than half of all nighttime driving deaths are caused by drunk drivers nationwide.

"You don't have to drink and drive, there's so many other options," said Smith.

Across the country 44% of people killed in drunk driving crashes on St. Patrick's Day are between 21 and 34 years old. One DUI checkpoint in Greenville Thursday night used a Breath Alcohol Testing Mobile Unit--or BAT Mobile-- to test drivers' alcohol level. It even has a magistrate court inside.

"We make the turn around time go from about two hours down to about an hour," said Bryon Varnell, a BAT Mobiile Unit coordinator.

He says that means officers can get back to stopping drunk drivers who could put your life in danger. Officers encourage you to stay out from behind the wheel if you decide to drink and use ride share services like Uber or Lyft, or get a ride from a sober friend.

The Booze It And Lose It campaign continues through St. Patrick's Day weekend. The Governor's Highway Safety Program holds these campaigns during other holidays like the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving.