Celebrating St. Patrick's Day? Look Out for Drunk Drivers

A green beer with a shamrock

Steeped in tradition, Irish people have been observing the Roman Catholic feast day known as St. Patrick’s Day every March 17 for hundreds of years. That’s right – the day that’s now excessively celebrated in America with green beer and pub crawls actually commemorates the death of a fifth century patron saint who spent much of his life converting the Irish to Christianity. In fact, the religious background of the holiday caused Ireland to close its pubs on March 17 every year until the 1970s. Early U.S. parades took place in Boston and New York, as burgeoning immigrant communities found great pride in connecting with their heritage.

Today, it is common for everyone to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day regardless of ancestry. Festivities may be week-long, and many incorporate alcohol. Advertisements for block parties, parades, happy hours and more from around South Florida prominently feature “partying hard.” For too many in the United States, St. Patrick’s Day has ended in tragedy due to drunk drivers getting behind the wheel. A study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that 32 percent of all fatalities from motor vehicle crashes on St. Patrick’s Day in 2010 involved alcohol. During the holiday from 2009 to 2013, there were a total of 276 lives lost in drunk-driving crashes. From 2010 to 2014, nearly two out of three traffic fatalities between midnight and 6:00 a.m. on the day after St. Patrick’s Day occurred in drunk driving crashes.

Drunk driving accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injury on America’s roads. There were over 10,000 fatalities in 2013 in crashes involving a driver with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher and an average of one alcohol-impaired driving fatality every 52 minutes. Driving while intoxicated just isn’t worth the risk. Even if you don’t injure yourself or someone else in an accident, an arrest can mean jail time, fines, loss of your driver’s license, towing fees, and court costs.

Eating, taking breaks, and consuming non-alcoholic drinks are good ways to slow down liquor intake. Make alternative transportation arrangements if you drink, such as getting a ride with a sober friend or calling a taxi. If you’re at a friend’s house, ask if you can stay overnight. Giving your body time to process the alcohol is the only way to sober up, so staying where you are is key if you can’t find a ride. No matter the date on the calendar, if you have been drinking, don’t drive. Making responsible decisions and taking appropriate measures can go a long way toward reducing the terrible consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol.

If you aren’t drinking this St. Paddy’s day, be extra cautious when driving. Watch out for tipsy pedestrians who may ignore crosswalks or stumble off sidewalks. Minimize distractions by staying off your cell phone and programming your GPS in advance. Obey traffic signals, don’t speed, and wear your seatbelt.

Everyone at Stabinski Law wishes our community and Floridians everywhere a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day. We urge you to take extra precautions while on the road during this holiday, because even though you may not have been drinking, you don’t know who out there has had one too many. While we hope that the celebration passes without incident, we are here if you need us. If you have any questions about this topic, or have been hurt by a drunk driver, you can find out more by discussing it with the Miami, FL personal injury attorneys at Stabinski Law Contact us by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a case evaluation form.

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