booze.jpgPolice departments throughout the Bay Area are deploying extra officers tonight to crack down on drunken drivers as residents celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Jan Ford, spokeswoman for San Francisco’s “Avoid the 8” multi-agency anti-DUI campaign said she doubts there are any cities in the Bay Area that won’t have extra patrols on the streets tonight.

“This is a holiday a lot of people celebrate with alcohol,” she said. “They should be sticking with the corned beef and cabbage.”

Cities planning DUI and driver’s license checkpoints tonight include Santa Rosa, Union City, Fremont and Sunnyvale. San Francisco, Sonoma County and San Jose are among the jurisdictions deploying extra patrols.

Ford said San Francisco police will be deploying a squad of motorcycle officers from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.

According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 134 crash fatalities nationwide on St. Patrick’s Day in 2008. Thirty-seven percent of those accidents involved drivers with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or above.

St. Patrick’s Day revelers looking for alternative means of transportation this evening have a number of options.

An Alameda-based law firm, Berg Injury Lawyers, is sponsoring free cab rides with Veterans Cab company for people in the cities of Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley at (800) 281-4488, and with Luxor Cab company for people in San Francisco at (415) 282-4141.

In addition, AAA is offering a “Tipsy Tow” service for both members and non-members. Drivers who have been drinking can call (800) 222-4357 after 6 p.m. for a free tow and ride of up to five miles.

Police suggest that drunken drivers consider taking public transit or pre-arranging rides with sober friends. They urge anyone who sees a drunken driver on the road to call 911.

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For help with alcoholism, consult with a health professional, or call the many alcohol help lines put up throughout the country.

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