Wolf Pack steps up DUI patrols for St. Paddy's weekend

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St. Patrick's Day converged with spring break and a couple of big events that drew large crowds to downtown St. Petersburg Friday, and had law enforcement agencies cracking down on drunken driving.

St. Petersburg Police and Florida Highway Patrol teamed up for an operation they dubbed a "Wolf Pack Saturation Patrol." Officers and troopers spread out throughout the city roads and interstates and looked for anyone who appeared to be under the influence.

"The big thing for us is that people make a plan," said Officer Lenard Cox.

Cox said DUI checkpoints and road blocks were not part of the plan because patrols often work better.

"I think it's just a little bit more effective," he said. "When you take a certain number of officers and instead of putting them in a checkpoint, you put them in a particular area throughout the city, you have an opportunity to make contact with people going in both directions, east and west, north and south."

Folks who were celebrating the holiday said they appreciate the extra effort by law enforcement.

"I'm hoping that the crackdown works because I'm hoping to get here and get back safe," said Jeff Gunn, who just moved to the area from Tennessee.

"They'll be able to cover more area between the downtown area and the highways, it'll be a lot better for everybody," said James Murray, adding he's seen people take too many chances. "Some people are like, 'oh I made it and I got lucky.' But you only get lucky so many times."

A lot of people told FOX 13 they used ride sharing apps like Uber, some used taxis, others pointed out there are other options.

"Call your mom if you have to," said Michelle Fischer, who was out with her friends.

The patrols started a little after 6 p.m. and were expected to last until at least 3 a.m. when the bars close.