MIDDLETOWN, NJ - As St. Patrick's Day approaches, The Bayshore Task Force is urging motorists to plan a safe ride home and never get behind the wheel drunk. During this holiday law enforcement officials in the Bayshore will be on high alert, cracking down on drunk drivers as part of its Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over public safety campaign.

The Bayshore Task Force is comprised of 10 towns (Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Matawan, Middletown and Union Beach) serving and patrolling 78 square miles with a combined population just over 174,000. In 2011 the Bayshore police departments arrested 595 drunk drivers.

"Drunk driving is dangerous, deadly and against the law – and it will not be tolerated in the Bayshore area this St. Patrick's Day," said Aberdeen Twp.Chief John Powers, president of the Bayshore Task Force. "Today we are giving fair warning to everyone traveling through the Bayshore area that our law enforcement officers will be out on patrol and if you are caught driving drunk you will be arrested."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that over 700 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving drunk drivers during St. Patrick's Day holidays from 2006 to 2010. On average, every 51 minutes a person is killed in a drunk-driving crash in the United States and the majority of these crashes involve drivers who have blood alcohol concentrations of .15 grams per deciliter or higher, almost twice legal limit of .08 g/dL.

"Whether you are gathering with friends at the local pub or attending the parade(s), if alcohol is part of the festivities, make sure you designate a sober driver to get you home safely, or contact your local sober ride program for a ride home," said Chief Powers.

The Bayshore Task Force recommends the following easy steps to have a safe and happy St. Patrick's Day:

Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.

Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.

If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home safely.

Use your community's sober ride program, The HERO program.

If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local police.

And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive a car or ride a motorcycle while impaired, take the keys and help that person make other arrangements to get to where he or she is going safely.

For more information, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.