Agencies urge smart partying

Revelers in green may be seeing red

— St. Patrick's Day is approaching and law enforcement officials do not want the perennial green celebration to turn into a blue experience for some.

Starting at 6 p.m. tonight, law enforcement agencies will be out in full force cracking down on drunken drivers in preparation for the Irish holiday on Saturday.

The Colorado State Patrol, Routt County Sheriff's Office and Steamboat Springs Police Department will be participating in the Heat Is On campaign.

"This is the kick-off," said Capt. Gary Torgerson, who is the supervisor of the State Patrol operations in Craig and Steamboat Springs. "This is the big weekend that starts the campaign off."

This weekend the State Patrol plans on having six additional troopers on the highways around Craig and Steamboat Springs nabbing drunken drivers.

"We will be out in full force this weekend," Torgerson said. "We hope our presence will deter people from driving drunk."

Each year, St. Patrick's Day is targeted for heightened enforcement.

"St. Patrick's Day is one of the worst weekends," he said. "It is pretty much like Christmas. There are a lot of people partying."

Typically, the State Patrol has two-to-three troopers patrolling highways around Craig and Steamboat Springs during weekend shifts, he said.

The extra troopers, who will be on the roads this weekend, will be paid from a Law Enforcement Assistance Fund grant the State Patrol was awarded earlier this year.

With the grant, the State Patrol was able to get some extra hours to put more troopers on the road," he said.

The Sheriff's Office will be assisting the State Patrol this weekend, said Undersheriff Daniel Taylor.

"This will be a consolidated effort," he said. "We will have deputies in targeted areas.

The Steamboat Springs Police Department also plans on having more officers on patrol than usual, said Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing.

The three lawmen are hopeful that people who are planning to go out this weekend and drink will have a designated driver, take a taxi or utilize the free bus in Steamboat Springs to get home.

"Our goal is to get through the weekend without one accident," Torgerson said.

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