St. Patty’s DUI Checkpoints

by Dave on March 11, 2009

From Merritt Burke, Community Traffic Safety Program Coordinator at University of Delaware Cooperative Extension (and co-founder of CoastalSussex.com)

Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2009, is upon us. As most history buffs know, Saint Patrick, born in Britain, passed on this day in 461 A.D. For centuries Irish-Christians, or now called Irish-Catholics, have celebrated the patron saint as leading Ireland out of paganism and into Christianity. In colonial America, Saint Patrick was first celebrated in 1737, while the first New York City parade was 1762.

With all the grand history surrounding St. Patrick Day, why is it one of the deadliest American holidays of the year? Well, instead of moderately enjoying a few ales, like many Irish before us, in celebration of a holy hero, Americans have decided to use the holiday as an excuse to over indulge in adult beverages. This is all fine and dandy, but when you mix good times with your automobile a deadly result occurs.

Over the past five years, 851 people lost their lives in motor vehicles crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Out of that number, 327 were killed in crashes that involved a driver or motorcycle rider (operator) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. In 2007 alone, 91 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver or motorcycle rider (operator) with a BAC of .08 or higher during this holiday.

If you are going to celebrate Saint Patrick this year, please do so responsibly by catching a cab, designating a sober driver or using public transportation. Remember, there are many options to drinking and driving.

And, if you needed extra motivation to be safe this weekend, there’s this, from the Office of Highway Safety:

The saying goes that “we’re all a little bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day” because it has become a day of celebration for all people regardless of their background or ethnic heritage. However, too many tend to overindulge in their consumption of green beer and then decide to get behind the wheel of a vehicle afterwards, an act that can result in tragedy. Nationally, over the last five years, 38% of all St. Patrick’s Day deaths have been alcohol-related.

That’s why the Delaware Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is coordinating statewide DUI enforcement for the upcoming weekend as well as St. Patrick’s Day itself. A total of 5 sobriety checkpoints and 80 DUI Saturation patrols are scheduled to take place.

All five checkpoints are set to take place on Saturday the 14th, along with 31 of the DUI Saturation Patrols. Agencies conducting checkpoints include: Dover Police, Georgetown Police, Rehoboth Beach Police, Smyrna Police, and the New Castle County DUI Task Force which will conduct a checkpoint in Wilmington. That is also the night of the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Loop (or Shamrock Shuttle) which involves activities at several Wilmington bars. OHS has placed a designated driver message on Loop bracelets that every participant must wear throughout the night.

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