Local cops to watch crowded roads during July 4 weekend

JESSUP, Md. — State and local law enforcement agencies across the D.C. region are beefing up patrols, getting prepared to watch for drunken drivers during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

“With almost 20,000 DUI arrests last year statewide, one can only imagine the number of people who narrowly escaped injury or even death,” said Maryland State Police Lt. Colonel Frank Lioi. “There are too many alcohol-related crashes that can be prevented.”

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For the fourth straight year, an initiative called the “State Police Impaired Driving Effort” will be out in full force this weekend, working to pull impaired drivers off Maryland roads.

“This is a group of highly trained state troopers,” Lioi said. “It is truly a lifesaving initiative that benefits every motorist and passenger who is traveling on Maryland highways.”

The team, which works year-round, has made nearly 2,300 DUI arrests over the past four years.

“Police across Maryland will accept no excuses for driving while impaired,” Lioi added. “No one should die because someone decided to drink and drive.”

Jim Ports, deputy secretary of Maryland’s department of transportation, warned drivers against being intoxicated, saying “the last thing you want to do is spend Independence Day in jail.”

Across the border, Virginia State Police are also increasing patrols. Last year, the agency arrested more than 100 drunken drivers during the July 4 weekend.

Wherever you go, roads are expected to be exceptionally crowded as record numbers of travelers take advantage of historically low gas prices.

Nationwide, more than 44 million Americans are expected to travel, according to AAA. In the immediate D.C. area, that number will be around 1 million.

“If you live in the Washington Metro area, chances are you will have to drive through parts of Maryland or Virginia to reach your holiday destinations, and the total numbers of travelers and the travel volumes across the three neighboring jurisdictions are absolutely mind-boggling,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend.

A combined 3.2 million people from D.C., Maryland and Virginia are expected to take a trip, with nearly 3 million driving to their destinations.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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