St. Patrick’s Day is one of the more festive days of the year. It is an occasion for people to celebrate Irish heritage. However, many St. Patrick’s Day festivities involve alcohol consumption, which can be dangerous for motorists. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reported 150 alcohol-related car accidents, 60 injuries, and two preventable fatalities during St. Patrick’s Day Weekend in 2020 alone.
The good news is drunk driving accidents are entirely preventable. Driving while intoxicated or getting in the car with a drunk driver is a choice. If you plan to go out this St. Patrick’s Day, be responsible, especially if you plan on drinking.
You should consider designating a sober driver among your group if you plan to drink. Alcohol affects decision-making, so it is best to plan your ride home before you go out. If you are intoxicated, you may be more likely to take risks and attempt to drive home. Decide who will be sober for the night.
Calling a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft or taking public transportation are also good options for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. St. Patrick’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for rideshare services, so plan accordingly when calling or scheduling a ride. You do not want to be waiting for hours after the bars and restaurants have closed.
When the vehicle arrives, make sure the make, model, and license plate match the information in your rideshare app. Have the driver confirm your name as well. Ask them who they are there to pick up and do not give them your name until they do.
Public transportation is another option if you live in an area where this is available. When taking the bus or the train, avoid going alone if you can, and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
How Alcohol Impacts Driving?
To better understand the risk to yourself and others when you drink and drive, consider the changes that take place in the body and mind after consuming alcohol. In small amounts, alcohol can compromise the following functions in a way that makes it unsafe to drive:
- Reaction time.
Is it Safe to Pace Myself While Drinking Alcohol?
The body processes alcohol gradually over time, and someone who drinks one glass of wine per hour will be less intoxicated and have a lower blood alcohol content (BAC) level than someone who drinks four glasses in the same period of time. However, any amount of alcohol consumption has the potential to cause impairment that makes it dangerous to drive. According to NHTSA data, in 2019, 1,775 people were killed in drunk driving crashes where the driver had a BAC level between 0.01 and 0.07. That is below the legal limit in most states.
Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving
It is not okay to drive if you have consumed alcohol, even if you have had one drink. To better illustrate the way alcohol affects the brain and body, consider the changes a person might experience at low BAC levels.
Someone with a BAC level of 0.02 may begin to have some judgement loss and decline of visual function. At a BAC level of 0.05, they will start to feel less inhibited, have difficulty steering, and begin to lose control of small-muscle movements, including focusing their eyes. At a slightly higher BAC level of 0.06, coordination is affected, and reaction time slows down.
What if I am Hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Party?
Even if you are staying put and hosting a party this holiday, you have a duty to help ensure the safety and well-being of your guests. Kindly ask them to hand over their keys at the start of the night. This gives you more control when it is time for them to leave. Consider having a sober celebration or cutting off cocktails a few hours before the end of the party. If a guest has been drinking, arrange for them to get a sober ride home, or they can stay over if possible.
What Should I Do if I See a Drunk Driver?
You can make good decisions and plan a safe ride home on St. Patrick’s Day, but what if you suspect another driver on the road is intoxicated? First, know the signs of drunk driving:
- Erratic accelerating and deaccelerating.
- Sudden or illegal turns.
- Driving without headlights at night.
- Driving way below the speed limit.
- Driving into opposing traffic.
- Striking or nearly-striking a curb, sign, or another object.
If you see a drunk driver, follow these steps:
- Stay as far away from the other vehicle as you can. Never attempt to pass a drunk driver or get their attention. You will only distract them further and increase the chance of a car wreck.
- Try to get a good look at the make and model of their vehicle and their license plate. Make sure you do not put yourself in danger by trying to get closer to the vehicle. Notify the police if you are able to make a hands-free call to 911. If not, pull over to call, or you can ask a passenger to make the call for you.
- Give the dispatcher your location, a description of the vehicle, and the direction they are traveling. From there, let the emergency responders take over. With that simple phone call to 911, you may help get a drunk driver off the street and prevent a deadly accident this St. Patrick’s Day.
What Should I Do if I am Injured in a St. Patrick’s Day Car Accident?
After an accident, the actions you take and the statements you make can have a significant impact on a future personal injury lawsuit. First and foremost, you want to check yourself and anyone else at the scene for injuries. Call 911 for emergency assistance.
After everyone has received medical attention, report the accident to the responding police officer. Avoid admitting fault but explain what transpired accurately and truthfully. If you suspect the other driver was either distracted, impaired, or just careless, let the officer know what you saw in the moments leading up to the accident.
Exchange contact information with the other driver and any witnesses at the scene. Take photographs of the accident site and any damage to vehicles and other property.
Once you are home, make an appointment to see a doctor to rule out serious injuries. Some car accident injuries develop over time, and without treatment, they can lead to chronic pain or even a disability.
Your next call should be to a skilled car accident lawyer. Schedule a no-obligation consultation to discuss your accident and learn what your legal options are after being injured by another driver.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Represent Clients Injured in Drunk Driving Crashes on St. Patrick’s Day
If you plan on going out this St. Patrick’s Day, make sure you act responsibly and safely, especially if you are going to be driving. Even with safety precautions, you cannot guarantee other motorists will drive responsibly. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers can help. Our legal team at East Coast Trial Lawyers will protect your rights if you have been hurt by a drunk driver. Call us at 757-352-2237 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.