Local law enforcement agencies advise partygoers to keep the St. Patrick’s revelry in check by staying off the roads if they’ve been drinking. (Dayna Smith/DAYNA SMITH/FTWP)

“We know from experience that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations increase the number of drunk drivers on our roads and the risk of highway tragedies resulting from drunken driving crashes,” wrote Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Terrence B. Sheridan in a news release.

Nationwide, there were 103 traffic crash fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day in 2009, with more than a third involving a driver with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.

And if the matter of life or death isn’t enough to convince you that drunk driving is bad, consider this: Maryland State Police made more than twice as many DUI arrests on St. Patrick’s Day 2010 and the four days following than they did the entire week before. The penalty? A fine of up to $1,000, up to a year in jail, 12 points on your driver’s license and a six-month license revocation.

“We do not wish to diminish anyone’s celebration,” Sheridan noted, advising revelers to “use common sense.”

To that end, SoberRide is offering free rides home this Thursday and Friday, and alcohol-free celebrations are always an option — New Ireland: The Enda Walsh Festival starts today at D.C.’s Studio Theatre, and Lord of the Dance 3D (yes, 3D!) opens in cinemas Thursday.

The Post’s Going Out Guide will have the latest on events — Irish-themed or otherwise — going on this week.

How do you plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year? Tell us in the comments below.