Tri-Citians planning to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this weekend would be wise not to bet on the "luck o' the Irish" keeping them out of trouble if they drink and drive.
Law enforcement officers in Benton and Franklin counties will be participating in extra DUI patrols beginning Friday. The St. Patrick's Day enforcement patrols run through Sunday.
Sixty-four drivers were arrested last year during the St. Patrick's Day patrols, said Mike Aldridge, Target Zero manager with the Benton-Franklin Traffic Safety Task Force. He said public education and strict enforcement is a proven method for reducing DUI crashes and fatalities.
But officers can't keep the roads safe by themselves -- everyone needs to do their part to keep drunk drivers off the road, he said.
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People planning to drink green beer or other alcoholic beverages to celebrate the holiday need to make plans for a sober ride home -- use a designated driver or taxi, or celebrate without alcohol, authorities said.
Drivers also are encouraged to call 911 if they see someone they suspect might be impaired.
Agencies participating in the extra patrols this weekend are Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, West Richland and Prosser police departments, the Benton County and Franklin County sheriff's offices and the Washington State Patrol.
The emphasis patrols are supported through a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and are part of the state's Strategic Highway Safety Plan to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2030.
Arrests made in connection with Hermiston bank robbery
Two arrests were made Monday in connection with a Hermiston bank robbery, but police still are searching for an 18-year-old suspect, authorities said.
Luizinho M. Penaloza is wanted for questioning about the Feb. 10 robbery at the Old West Federal Credit Union, said Hermiston Acting Police Chief Jason Edmiston.
"In their newspaper ads regarding the reward, Old West Federal Credit Union used the statement 'Not in Our Town' -- this is so fitting as we must all take this stance to hold people accountable for their poor choices, Edmiston said.
Hermiston officers, with help from the Oregon State Police and the FBI, served a search warrant at 8:40 a.m. at 1740 N.E. North St.
At the home, Austin J. Erickson, 17, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree aggravated theft and menacing.
Erickson also was arrested for attempting to elude police and reckless driving on March 8, Edmiston said.
Tara L. Erickson, 35, also was arrested at the house. She faces charges of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, hindering prosecution and initiating a false report.
Officers also searched a home at 524 E. Browning Ave. in Hermiston in connection with the robbery.
Penaloza, who also uses the name Luis Penaloza, was last known to be living at 310 E. Dogwood Ave., in Hermiston. He is described as being 5-foot-1, weighing 100 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information on Penaloza's whereabouts is asked to call Hermiston police at 541-567-5519.
-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org