State Police have increased drunk-driving patrols this month in conjunction with a national drive to combat the problem.
Although the week of Dec. 9-15 has been designated "National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Week" by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the state effort is to continue throughout the holiday season.
The effort includes sobriety checkpoints and campaigns urging groups attending social events to designate a driver who would remain sober.
In 1989, 45,500 people nationwide died in automobile accidents, according to the highway safety group. Of those deaths, 22,415, or about 49 percent, were alcohol-related.
The highest number of drunk-driving offenses usually occur during the holiday season, the highway safety group said.
As a result, State Police in Maryland expect a 30 percent increase in the number of referrals to its Drinking Driver Monitor Program, which is a probation supervision program.