Along with the arrival of spring, March ushers in one of the largest holiday celebrations in the United States, St. Patrick’s Day. Honoring Irish Americans and Irish heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year by more than 37 million Americans, according to the National Retail Federation.
The holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption makes it one of very few events involving mass intoxication. According to WalletHub, over 13 million pints of Guinness Irish Stout are consumed on St. Patrick’s Day. It is no surprise that the holiday results in many drunk driving arrests and alcohol-related car accidents. Law enforcement agencies across the country operate in full force, deploying prevention and enforcement programs, such as drunk driver checkpoints along roadways, to keep motorists and pedestrians safe.
St. Patrick’s Day is also one of the deadliest days of the year due to drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with one death occurring every 46 minutes. Most people enjoy a good celebration and St. Patrick’s Day is one of the nation’s biggest parties. However, the alcohol consumption the holiday is known for also makes it one of the most dangerous days of the year. The following are tips to help you have a safe St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Make a plan before heading out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Your plan should cover how you will travel to and from festivities, especially if you are planning to consume alcohol or planning to travel alone and meet with friends elsewhere.
Fortunately, most places have some form of public transportation, and many extend their hours on St. Patrick’s Day to help people stay safe and avoid drunk driving. In areas without public transportation, there are likely private taxi and rideshare services available.
Designate a Sober Driver
If you are traveling in a group, designate a sober driver who will remain alcohol-free and be responsible for transporting the rest of the group safely. Oftentimes, pubs and similar businesses will offer a free cover charge or free non-alcoholic beverages to those who identify themselves as the designated driver.
If you are not able to find a designated driver or public transportation, consider staying in a local hotel or with friends, preferably in walking distance to where you will be celebrating.
Eat and Hydrate
Before consuming alcoholic beverages, eat a meal to avoid drinking on an empty stomach and drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated. Alcohol causes dehydration, so continue to drink water throughout the night, as well as additional food if you will be celebrating for a long period of time.
Host a Party
The best way for you and your friends to stay safe on St. Patrick’s Day is to stay home. Instead of hitting the town, host a party at home for friends and family. Offer plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages.
If possible, prepare rooms in your home where guests can stay overnight to avoid driving. If this is not possible, take guests’ keys and call a taxi or rideshare service to get them home safely.
Keep an eye on your friends and their levels of impairment. Take their keys and find an alternative way to get them home safely if they have consumed beyond their limit.
Do Not Mix Alcohol and Drugs
Avoid mixing drugs and alcohol. When combined, the level of impairment is not only worse, but occurs much more quickly.
Pay Extra Attention to the Road
If you are the group’s designated driver, be extra vigilant. There are more drunk driving accidents and deaths on St. Patrick’s Day, so it is highly likely you will encounter other drunk drivers on the road.
Keep an eye out for cars that are swerving, crossing lanes or running off the road, are speeding up and slowing down suddenly, and ignoring traffic signals and signs. Many fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day are sober drivers.
Watch for Pedestrians
Those who are walking are especially vulnerable, both sober and intoxicated. Outdoor celebrations often put many pedestrians on the streets, such as parades or pub crawls, making them extremely vulnerable to being struck by a car. Drunk drivers can swerve into pedestrians, and intoxicated pedestrians can fall, stumble, or walk into the path of a car.
What Are the Dangers of Drunk Driving?
Classified as a depressant, alcohol slows the functions of the brain and central nervous system. Drivers operating under the influence of alcohol process information more slowly and react less quickly, increasing the likelihood of a dangerous car crash. The CDC identifies young adults, 21 to 24 years old, as the demographic most at risk for alcohol-related accidents, followed by motorcyclists and drivers with prior drunk driving convictions.
Virginia has a strict stance on drunk or drugged driving, and motorists can be charged with driving while impaired (DWI), even if the car is not moving. The law identifies “driving” or “operating” a vehicle while impaired with prohibited blood alcohol content (BAC) levels as grounds for a DWI offense. The Virginia Supreme Court defines this as being in actual physical control of the vehicle. In other words, a person sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition who tests above the legal BAC limit can be charged with DWI, whether the car is running or not.
What Should I Do if I am Hit by a Drunk Driver?
If you are involved in an accident with an intoxicated driver on St. Patrick’s Day, you should do the following:
- Contact law enforcement and emergency responders to report the accident.
- Take photographs or videos of the scene, making sure to document the cars, the damage, your injuries, road conditions, signage, and anything that contributed to the accident.
- Gather contact information and statements from any witnesses to the accident.
- Seek medical attention, preferably right after the accident, but within the first few days. Many accidents do not show symptoms for hours or days, and many can be life-threatening if left untreated.
- Hire an attorney with experience in personal injury cases. You may be able to recover compensation for the costs of vehicle repairs, medical bills, and lost wages.
Given the high volumes of alcohol consumption, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most dangerous days of the year for motorists and pedestrians. The holiday marks one of the deadliest days of the year for alcohol-related car crashes and fatalities. Accidents involving drunk drivers often result in serious injuries and costly property damage. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, you should speak to a lawyer about your options.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Fight for Clients Injured in Crashes Involving Drunk Drivers on St. Patrick’s Day
If you plan to go out on St. Patrick’s Day, you should have a safety plan in place before you attend an event. If you have been hurt in an accident with a drunk driver, our experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.