OK, now that St. Patrick’s Day is over, I’m sure we all know a few people who had a “few too many” celebrating the Irish holiday. As long as those people weren't operating a motor vehicle and could only hurt themselves with a bad hangover, that’s one thing. But to those who imbibed too much and then got behind the wheel, they need to get their sanity back on.
If you took a poll and asked people what day of the year involved the highest number of drunken driving accidents, I’ll bet most people would say New Year’s Eve. Close, but not exactly. It seems that distinction goes to the venerable St. Patrick’s Day, at least according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.) According their statistics, St. Paddy’s Day is one of the deadliest highway deaths days of the year, with a reported 276 drunk-driving fatalities occurring March 17 between 2009-2013. NHTSA claims that three-quarters of those deaths involved operators who were driving at or over twice the legal limit (.08, in Massachusetts.) Remember: That fatality figure of 276 represents deaths only, not major injuries such as brain injuries, burn injuries, paralysis and amputations. Ad those facts in, and the picture is pretty gruesome.
St. Patrick’s Day has become so known for drunk driving accidents that car-ride services have stepped in to address the problem: Uber offered $5 for every ride taken between March 17 and March 22 to some chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD,) and the rise service Lyft offered free ride credits to any customer who was riding with a driver named Patrick, Pat, Patty or Patricia on St. Patrick’s Day. A great combination of civic responsibility and smart marketing.
As a Wrentham Massachusetts OUI/DUI lawyer, I’ve seen my share of drunk driving cases. Many times, the defendant was not legally drunk, and should not have been arrested. But other times, the opposite is true. While we fight tooth and nail for all our clients arrested for Massachusetts OU/DUO charges, no matter what the circumstances they were arrested under, we also counsel in private those who need to hear the plain truth: Do NOT drink and drive – ever. The risk of hurting someone else, hurting yourself or a loved one, or being arrested, is simply not worth it.
So matter what day or the year it is, play it smart – don’t drink and drive. Or you may need a saint (a legal one, that is,) faster than you think.