Drunk Drivers out of Luck this St. Patrick's Day Weekend

March 15, 2013

722713_a_pint_of_irish_stout.jpgDUI lawyers at Pintas & Mullins urge Americans to take great care on the road this holiday weekend. St. Patrick's Day is on a Sunday this year, so police throughout the country will be out in abundance starting on Friday night, March 15, 2013.

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and March 17 has come to be a customary day of drinking and green-toned celebrations. Too often, however, the day's festivities end in tragedy when celebrators decide to drink and drive. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that more than 700 Americans were killed between 2006 and 2010 due to drunk drivers over the St. Patty's weekend. During the 2010 holiday alone, nearly 130 Americans were killed on our nation's roadways in alcohol-related crashes.

In most states, drivers with a BAC of .08 are considered legally under the influence, and will be arrested on the spot for a DUI. Lesser known is that those driving with a .05 BAC are considered to be impaired, and pose dangerous risks on the roadway as well. Impaired drivers, like those under the influence, have slower reaction times, increased susceptibility to distractions, and often engage in dangerous driving practices, like speeding or following too closely.

Every year, alcohol-related crashes cost drivers about $37 billion in damages. This number does not factor in the costs of a DUI conviction, which amounts to an average of $10,000. Compare this number to the cost of public transportation (just a few dollars) or the cost of hailing a taxi. The numbers and statistics are overwhelmingly clear. Risking drinking and driving is simply not worth it, no matter how you look at it.

Of course, alcohol content varies widely depending on what you'll be drinking this holiday weekend. In observance of Irish tradition, many party-goers will be consuming beer and whiskey. It is important to remember that 12 ounces of beer - the average amount served per glass at your local pub - has about the same alcohol content as 1.5 ounces of 40-proof liquor, which is about one shot, and 5 ounces of red wine, which is about one glass.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) created a free app, called Are You Buzzed, to help celebrators determine how high their alcohol content is. All you have to do is input the type and amount of alcohol you are drinking, the amount of time you've been consuming it, and your weight, and it outputs a close estimation of what your BAC is.

CDOT is partnering with Miller/Coors this weekend to hand out $10 cab vouchers in downtown Denver. The agency is also partnering with DazBog coffee company, handing out $4 coffee gift cards for the designated drivers of the group. These incentives to get partiers home safely are in response to last year's Colorado roadway statistic, which reveal more than 420 arrests and four deaths from drunk drivers.

Another free app, created by officials in Georgia, provides a list of sober drivers to partiers throughout the state. Called Drive Sober Georgia, the app is available in smartphone app stores and can also be downloaded by scanning a barcode on coasters distributed to pubs across Georgia. The app provides a list of cab companies and other safe modes of transportation Georgians can call to get a fast, efficient sober ride home.

Many bars nationwide will be offering free non-alcoholic drinks to patrons throughout the night, which customers are urged to take advantage of. Having water or another non-alcoholic drink in between green beers is a great way to keep your alcohol intake in check, as is eating substantial food before and during drinking.

Just like all other holidays associated with heavy drinking, police throughout the country will be out in full force this weekend to curtail the dangers of drunk drivers. Increased patrols and DUI checkpoints will be prevalent in every state, as law enforcers are more committed than ever to get impaired drivers off the streets.

Car accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins wish everyone a festive and safe St. Patrick's Day weekend, and caution celebrators to not drink and drive. Judgment is the first thing to be impaired after consuming alcohol, so have a plan for getting home in place before the festivities begin.