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Officials warn about driving drunk over the holiday

As the state’s highways begin to get crowded with Fourth of July traffic, Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey unveiled two initiatives Tuesday designed to prevent drunken driving by offering incentives for designated drivers, and appealing to restaurants and bars that serve alcohol.

In Quincy, Morrissey and local police said they were trying to prevent drunken driving crashes throughout the summer with traffic enforcement and the additional initiatives.

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“There is no shortage of enforcement on the roads,” Morrissey said at the Adams Inn. “State and local departments dedicate resources to stop those who should not be behind the wheel. We are here today reminding members of the public that they have an equally important role.”

That role, the district attorney said, is for groups to assign a designated driver and for bartenders to stop serving patrons alcohol before they have had too much to drink.

Last month, Morrissey sent a letter to all licensed liquor establishments in Norfolk County requesting that they remind servers to keep an eye on customers’ consumption. Morrissey’s office distributed 7,000 “Observe, Don’t Over Serve” placards to the roughly 700 establishments and asked that they be placed where servers will see them regularly.

“Shutting a patron off can be an uncomfortable thing to do, but every server needs to know that their manager, their owner, their police chief, and their DA are behind them,” he said. “We’re hoping this sends the message to servers that they should blame us. Blame the district attorney, blame the police chiefs, if a customer is unhappy about it.”

In partnership with the Ensign John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, Morrissey’s office has also asked bars and restaurant to offer free soft drinks to designated drivers.

“If you see a Hero campaign sticker or placard in a local restaurant, they will serve you your soda for free, if you are the designated driver in your group,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey said his message is not that people should refrain from drinking, but rather that they should drink responsibly. “We are not saying ‘don’t drink’ or ‘don’t have fun,’ ” he said. “We don’t want to stop you from enjoying your day. We want to keep you from forever regretting your night.”

In New Hampshire on Tuesday, Massachusetts State Police joined Maine and New Hampshire State Police to remind drivers that police will be out in force during the holiday.

Colin A. Young can be reached at colin.young@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @ColinAYoung.
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