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St. Paddy's Sobriety Checkpoint Planned

Make sure to designate a driver if drinking over the St. Patrick's Day weekend. A sobriety checkpoint will be set up in the parking lot of Pinellas County North County Traffic Court tonight.

Nick Sznerch and his family were driving to North Carolina on vacation when a drunk driver hit their van.

Sznerch, who was 7 years old at the time, and his mother survived. His father died on scene, and his sister died at the hospital.

Sznerch is now an Explorer with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, which is dedicating its Friday sobriety checkpoint to Sznerch and his family.

In an effort to reduce inebriated drivers on the road, deputies will set up a sobriety checkpoint from 10 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot of Pinellas County North County Traffic Court, 29582 U.S. 19 N. in Clearwater.

"We have seen an epidemic of overdose-related deaths as many citizens of all social and economic backgrounds have become addicted to prescription drugs," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a news release. "We know these same people are getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and driving. Through aggressive enforcement, we hope to save lives."

Checkpoints will be conducted monthly in different parts of the county as well as other enforcement methods including wolfpack patrols. These will target high-traffic areas in an effort to identify and stop impaired and aggressive drivers. A wolfpack patrol is planned for sometime in March, officials said.

Prisoner transport, community policing, canine units and narcotics deputies will be on the lookout for alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers at the checkpoint. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Mobile Command Bus will be on location for breath testing and processing of those who are arrested.

Deputies will also be looking for other traffic violations to include driver license, registration, insurance and equipment violations.

Members of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Traffic Crash Investigators Unit and the Explorer Post 900 will help with non-enforcement-related tasks.

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