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St. Patrick's Day & Impaired Driving

alcohol binge drinking drinking and driving dui impaired driving Mar 16, 2022

It's that time of year again - our days are becoming longer, the weather is warming up, and that means Spring, and St. Patrick's Day, are right around the corner. In America, St. Patrick's Day is considered one of the most popular drinking holidays of the year. It is the norm for many young adults to go out to a bar and celebrate by drinking with their friends. Unfortunately, it has also become a holiday associated with binge drinking and high rates of impaired driving, car crashes, injuries, and deaths. One night of drinking and getting behind the wheel can lead to deadly consequences for yourself and for others.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 287 lives were lost in drunk-driving crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day period from 2016 to 2020. During the 2020 St. Patrick’s Day period alone (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), more than a third (36%) of crash fatalities involved a drunk driver

Locally, the California Highway Patrol arrested 67 people suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs on St. Patrick's Day in 2020. Prescription medications, cannabis, and illegal drugs can also impair driving and lead to a DUI arrest.

"Don't even put yourself in a position where you need to ask if you're OK to drive," Sgt. Michael Brown of the Ventura Police Department said in a statement. "Buzzed driving is drunk driving."

Aside from the risk of injury or death, impaired driving can be incredibly expensive. A DUI arrest can cost $15,000 or more in California with attorney's fees, court costs, insurance premium increases and auto repairs.

The NHTSA encourages everyone to take the following safety precautions this St. Patrick's Day and every day:

  • Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Designate a sober driver or a call a ride service to get home safely. 
  • Never let a friend drive drunk. Arrange a safe and sober way for them to get home.
  • If you’re the designated driver, make sure you don’t drink so you can keep that promise of safety to yourself and your passengers.
  • Don't ride in a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking. 
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement to report the driver. 

If you’re hosting a party:

  • Make sure all your guests designate their sober drivers in advance.
  • Serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
  • Don't allow those under 21 to drink alcohol at your party.
  • Stop serving alcohol a few hours before the end of the party and keep serving non-alcoholic drinks and food.
  • Take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving after drinking and get them a ride home.