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Maryland officers out in force this holiday season

If you work in Montgomery County or are planning to drive to or through there this holiday season, be aware that law enforcement officers from multiple agencies are out in force with the goal of keeping drunk drivers off the road. The annual Alcohol Holiday Task Force started its work in mid-November. It will continue through the first weekend in January.

The task force includes officers from six different districts as well as the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police, Maryland National Capital Park Police Department and more. In just the first three weeks, the task force arrested 86 people for driving under the influence. There are sobriety checkpoints in locations throughout the county that have a history of drunk driving crashes.

The task force has a broader mission, however, than keeping the roads safe. The officers also respond to reports of parties where there may be underage drinking, for instance. Officers have issued civil citations to people under 21 for being in possession of alcohol. Adults who host parties where underage guests are served alcohol can be fined up to $5,000 and serve jail time.

Another mission of the force is to help ensure that businesses with alcohol licenses aren't selling liquor to underage consumers. The Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control is also involved in compliance checks of these businesses.

Maryland has some stringent laws and penalties regarding alcohol. One -- Noah's Law -- is named for a Montgomery County Police officer who was working on the task force when he was fatally struck by a drunk driver.

Law enforcement agencies, of course, would rather not see drunk drivers on the road. That's why they advise people of the many options to getting behind the wheel to drive home after drinking. These include using Uber or Lyft, calling a cab, a friend or family member or using public transportation. There are also services like SoberRide. If you have a reliable friend or family member who will agree before you go out to be the designated sober driver, that's an option as well.

A DUI in Maryland can result in time behind bars, fines, driver's license suspension and mandatory use of an ignition interlock device. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI this holiday season, it's wise to seek experienced legal guidance.

Source: Rockville Patch, "86 Arrests Made By Holiday DUI Patrols In Montgomery County," Cameron Luttrell, Dec. 05, 2017

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