Alcohol consumption is a significant part of holiday festivities, and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. A deadly mistake, drunk driving leads to 39% of crash fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day. As one of the deadliest nights to be on the road, a staggering number of the deaths and injuries sustained on this drinking holiday are preventable.
Impaired Driving Puts Lives at Risk
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities caused by drunk drivers are on the rise. Each year, 44% of national fatal car crashes involve a driver or motorcyclist with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. In addition, a majority of pedestrian deaths from traffic accidents are caused by a drunk driver behind the wheel. Approximately 33% of pedestrian fatality victims over the age of 16 had a BAC above .08 in 2018. This creates serious dangers for partygoers through the neighborhood that may be walking between parties or bars.
St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most dangerous nights of the year because of the number of drunk drivers on the road. This holiday meant for bar-crawling and fun-filled festivities has turned into a night of fatal car accidents for thousands of people. During peak party hours, at least 69% of traffic crash deaths involve a driver with a BAC above .08 (the legal limit). Teenagers, college students, and young men are especially vulnerable to buzzed or drunk driving accidents.
In addition to being a nationally recognized drinking holiday, St. Patrick’s day ranks third in recreational marijuana use. This presents an increased risk when combined with heavy drinking. Poly-impaired drivers, or those who are intoxicated by two or more substances, present a higher risk of traffic crashes. Poly-impairment is rising as a leading cause of DUI crashes.
Tips for Safer Celebrations on St. Patrick’s Day
As the risk of sustaining a serious injury in a DUI crash on St. Patty’s Day is higher, partygoers must practice an extra level of caution to avoid an accident. Though the actions of others are out of the control of potential victims, there are steps individuals can take for a safer holiday celebration.
- Pedestrians should stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in the street. If the neighborhood does not have sidewalks, partygoers should walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
- When crossing the street, pedestrians should look both ways and listen for traffic, cross streets only at corners, crosswalks, or traffic lights, and never cross between parked vehicles.
- Clothing should contain reflective materials or reflective tape for best visibility at night. Glowsticks or other glowing accessories can help to keep pedestrians visible throughout the night.
- Celebrators should avoid walking alone or in high traffic areas when impaired to avoid falling or stumbling into oncoming traffic.
- Drivers are urged to avoid getting behind the wheel when intoxicated. Instead, they should hail a taxi, find a designated sober driver, use public transportation, or use a ridesharing service to avoid impaired driving.
- Even sober drivers are at risk of hitting impaired pedestrians on busy streets. To avoid these accidents, drivers should keep an eye out for stumbling patrons and avoid driving in areas where walking traffic is increased on this night.
Indiana Drunk Driving Laws
In Indiana, the official term for drunk driving is “operating while intoxicated” (OWI), but it may also be referred to as “driving under the influence” (DUI). Indiana drunk driving laws prohibit all motorists from operating a vehicle under the following conditions: a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher; any amount of a schedule I or II controlled substance in their system; and alcohol or drug impairment.
Indiana also has a “zero tolerance” law and an “implied consent” law that impacts drunk drivers. The zero-tolerance law makes it illegal for drivers under 21 years of age to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or higher. The implied consent law requires all drivers arrested for an OWI to submit to a breath test or blood test. If a motorist refuses to test and has no prior OWI convictions, he or she faces a one-year license suspension. If a driver refuses to test and has at least one prior OWI, the penalty is a two-year license suspension.
If a drunk driving accident occurs, an Indiana accident lawyer can help recover damages for personal injuries and property damages.