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St. Patrick’s Day sometimes is a invitation for excessive drinking. It’s important that the bad choices not include driving while drunk.

A University of Pennsylvania study showed that on St. Patrick’s Day, there are 23% more accidents resulting in death or serious injury. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration statistics show in 2008, there were 134 crash fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day. Out of that number, 50 people were killed in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcyclist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. In Iowa during 2009, there were 373 fatalities, of which 86 were alcohol related.

Operation NightCAP is a federally funded program that puts overtime police officers on extra patrols in Minnesota’s 15 deadliest counties. The thought behind identifying the holiday increase is to get the word out so that drunk drivers may think twice about taking to the roads. “The goal here isn’t to stop people from having a good time,” State Patrol Lt. Mark Peterson said.” “The whole idea is for [drunk drivers] to believe that they’re going to get caught.”

The the Iowa State Patrol gives us this advice:

– Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;

– Before drinking, please designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home;

– If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely;

– Use your community’s Sober Rides program if one is available;

– If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your local law enforcement;

– And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

In any drunk driving collision, there are a number of issues that will need to be reviewed. My partner, Joe Crumley, addressed this topic in a past article for the Minnesota Trial magazine. Beyond the accident, there may be Dram shop issues that have to be investigated.

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