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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — Those who pull out all the stops for St. Patrick’s Day could find themselves stopped by police at drunk-driving checkpoints this week as part of a statewide Booze It and Lose It campaign.

Transportation Secretary Gene Conti says the campaign runs through Thursday and involves checkpoints and increased patrols. Stiff penalties, including loss of driving privileges, will be imposed on anyone caught driving while drunk.

Safety officials say St. Patrick’s Day is often associated with alcohol use. About 150 alcohol-related crashes and four deaths occurred in North Carolina during the week of March 17, 2010.

Conti recommends designated drivers or taxi services for those celebrating with alcohol. He urges anyone who sees what appears to be a drunk driver on the road to call police.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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