St. Patrick’s Day is Thursday, March 17. That is practically the weekend and close enough to convince many celebrants to make it a three-day weekend.
St. Patrick’s Day is famous for pub crawls and eating shepherd’s pie. It also is notorious for DUI car accidents and arrests.
Nearly a third of road-going fatalities in the United States are caused by drunk drivers. If you have special plans for St. Patrick’s Day that include a pub crawl, precautions are advised.
The American Addiction Centers says 80 percent of motorists who are arrested for DUI on St. Patrick’s Day have a blood alcohol content that is about double the legal limit.
Local law enforcement agencies are very aware of an increased potential for drunk driving on the unofficial holiday. They step up patrols to help catch impaired motorists.
You do not need the luck of the Irish to stay out of trouble while driving on St. Patrick’s Day. The following could help you to drive safely and return home safely.
Plan the Drive Home
If you are driving on St. Patrick’s Day, you should stay sober and avoid drinking. If you intend to drink with friends, a designated driver is the best option for safe travels.
If you plan to head out on your own, it would be best to take a taxi, use a ride-hailing service, or use public transportation when available. However, if you are determined to drive, a plan could help you to arrive safely at all destinations.
You need to know where you are going and the main roads leading to and from one or more destinations. If the most direct route also is the busiest, you might want to map out an alternate route. The more vehicles that you encounter, the more likely you are to be in an accident caused by a drunk driver.
You should ensure all vehicle lights are working properly and the wiper blades are in good shape. A rainy St. Patrick’s Day could turn into a stormy night that needs better illumination so that you can see the road clearly. Fully functioning lights also help to prevent police stops because of faulty equipment.
If you intend to carry one or more passengers, do your best to ensure that person wears a seat belt. Also, under no circumstances should alcohol or other inebriating substances be consumed while in your vehicle.
Leave the Cellphone and Minimize Driving Distractions
You might be tempted to call others or receive phone calls from some of the people that you might plan to meet up with on St. Patrick’s Day. If you do that while driving, you are breaking the law.
New Jersey bans all forms of cellphone use while driving. Even hands-free systems are banned. Cellphone use is the primary cause of distracted driving. And distracted driving is a primary killer among younger drivers and their passengers.
There are many other potential ways in which distracted driving could occur on St. Patrick’s Day.
If you are carrying passengers who are drinking, they could become loud and obnoxious. It could be very tempting to play loud music and generally act in a distracting manner while out celebrating with friends. Even taking to the driver might be enough of a distraction to trigger an accident.
All passengers should remain aware of the dangers of distracted driving and do their best to leave the driver alone. That might be a tall task to ask on a traditional day for drinking. But you should do your best to prevent distractions while driving.
Stay Hydrated and Eat Well
It is very important to remain alert and in reasonably good health while driving on any popular holiday. An empty stomach and dehydration could cause you to tire out and make a mistake while driving.
Drinking non-alcoholic drinks, such as juice or water, will help to keep you hydrated. And eating a healthful meal and snacking on good foods that might be available can help to keep you alert through a potentially long night.
Anyone who is drinking would benefit from having food to help offset the effects of alcohol. Also, a full stomach makes it harder to drink heavily.
You could do yourself and your passengers a big favor by ensuring you and others eat well and minimize alcohol intake as much as possible among those with whom you might celebrate.
Do Not Leave Drinks Unattended
Criminal activity could occur just about anywhere. The busier and bigger the celebration and the larger the crowds, the more likely criminals will prey on the unsuspecting. That includes local bars on St. Patrick’s Day.
Criminals have been spiking drinks for as long as drinks have been served to the public. Women are especially vulnerable to spiked drinks. But so is anyone who might wear nice clothing and expensive watches or jewelry.
Criminal activity is raising concern across the nation. People following other people from gathering places to commit criminal acts is a part of that problem.
Instead of becoming a victim, it helps greatly to always carry whatever you are drinking. If you leave your seat, someone should keep an eye on it. Of you need to carry your beverage with you.
Use the Buddy System
You might have learned about the buddy system while a child prior to heading to a beach, a carnival, or some other fun locale. The idea is to keep an eye on your buddy in case something goes wrong.
Your buddy does the same for you. If a problem arises, the buddy system enables you to work it out with your buddy.
You might be the one rescuing your buddy from a potentially bad situation. Or your buddy might be the one saving you.
The buddy system could work even when the two buddies are not in the same location. Calling on the cellphone or sending a text if the surroundings are too loud for phone conversations could help you to obtain a safe ride home.
Likewise, you could provide your buddy with a safe ride home if things do not go as planned. The buddy system could help to ensure a good time can be had without people winding up in jail, the hospital, or worse.
Potential Third-Party Liability for St. Patrick’s Day Accidents
If you are struck by a drunk driver while legally operating your vehicle, liability for the accident might be shared by one or more third parties. That is especially true if the offending motorist got drunk at a bar or a private party that served alcohol.
New Jersey’s dram shop law enables you to sue a bar that overly served a drunk driver who caused you harm. A wrecked car and a trip to the emergency room are more than enough harm to trigger claims against an offending bar or other third parties.
The dram shop law does not automatically hold the party liable for serving alcohol to an eventual drunk driver. One of two key elements must be shown for a bar or other party to be liable for serving the driver who caused an accident.
The drunk driver must have been visibly intoxicated when the bar continued to serve alcohol to that person. A bar or other party also could be liable if the drunk driver was under 21 years of age.
The driver might have used a fake ID to obtain bar service. However, the establishment would be liable if it reasonably should have known the ID was fake or that the individual was under 21 years of age.
An experienced car accident lawyer could help to determine potential legal liability if you are injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver on St. Patrick’s Day or at any other time.
Monmouth County Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Help to Hold Negligent Drivers Accountable
Unfortunately, St. Patrick’s Day brings an increase of drunk drivers along with the celebrations. If you are injured in an accident caused by an impaired or negligent driver, the Monmouth County car accident lawyers at Ellis Law can help. Our experienced legal will help investigate the cause of the accident and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. For a free, confidential consultation, call us at 732-308-0200 or complete our online form. We are located in Freehold, New Jersey, and help clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Monmouth County, Marlboro, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn, New York, and New York City.