Erie County Law Enforcement is launching a STOP DWI campaign for the St. Patrick's Day weekend.

Starting Thursday, DWI patrols and sobriety checkpoints will be set up across the county. Police will also be ticketing distracted drivers who are using handheld electronic devices and will conduct checks at retail establishments targeting underage drinking and unlawful sales to minors during the campaign.

"Our message is clear: If you're planning on celebrating St. Patrick's Day with alcohol, make plans for a safe ride home," Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "The tragedies caused by impaired driving are completely preventable if we all put safety first. We have zero tolerance for impaired driving, and I thank our State Police and local law enforcement who will be out in force all weekend."

Police say that nearly 300 drivers have been arrested for impaired driving in Erie County so far this year.

"A celebration can turn deadly in an instant because of an impaired or distracted driver," New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli said. "If you are going to be celebrating, please celebrate responsibly. Help us keep New York's roads the safest in the nation by planning ahead. Don't drink and drive and designate a sober driver. It's a critical choice that could save a life."

During last year's St. Patrick's Day impaired driving enforcement, New York State Troopers arrested 381 people for DWI, issued 754 tickets for distracted driving and 26,594 tickets in total.