Thousands of people will be out on the town in celebration of St. Patrick's Day this weekend. The New York State Police want to make sure everyone stays safe while they're having a good time.

To do that, state troopers will be increasing patrols to combat drunk, impaired and reckless driving. The agency says the special enforcement detail, funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, begins Friday and runs through Sunday.

Anyone out on the roads this weekend can expect to see a higher level of DWI patrols and sobriety checkpoints. Troopers will also be on the lookout for distracted drivers using handheld devices.

In addition, members of law enforcement will be conducting checks at stores and other establishments in an effort to prevent sales of alcohol to underage individuals.

Last year, state police say they made 381 DWI arrests and issued 754 tickets for distracted driving. Overall, 26,594 tickets were issued during the St. Patrick's Day increased enforcement period.

The state police are reminding drivers that DWI arrests mean possible jail time, loss of license, higher insurance rates and dozens of unanticipated expenses. Impaired driving can carry fines of up to $10,000.

"Our message is clear: If you're planning on celebrating St. Patrick's Day with alcohol, make plans for a safe ride home," said Gov. Kathy Hochul. "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." 

Anyone who will being going out to celebrate the holiday is asked to consider the following steps that could prevent tickets, arrests or even a tragedy:

  • Before the festivities begin, plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night
  • Before you start drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home
  • If you’re impaired, use a taxi or ride-hailing service, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely
  • If available, use your community’s sober ride program
  • Walking impaired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Designate a sober friend to walk you home
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, call local law enforcement. You could save a life

The state's “Have a Plan” mobile app, is available for Apple, Android and Windows smartphones and allows New Yorkers to find a taxi service and program a designated driver list. The app also provides information on DWI laws and penalties, and a way to report a suspected impaired driver.