City of Ukiah, California

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The Luck of the Irish

Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming, and St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner—oh my lucky charms.

What a great time of year to celebrate the end of winter and the start of spring, a time when we can all hope for a bit of Irish luck.  

According to historians, St. Patrick’s Day (or the Feast of Saint Patrick) is a cultural and religious celebration in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, who lived in the fifth century. Along with celebrating the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish national holiday when religious restrictions on drinking alcohol are often lifted for the day, encouraging a rich tradition of St. Patrick’s Day alcohol consumption.

Here’s the thing: while we are drinking that green beer, we rarely think, “This will be the year I am arrested for driving under the influence,” or “This is the holiday my life tragically changes as a result of a drunk driver.”

Across America in 2013, two of every five fatality crashes on St. Patrick’s Day involved drunk drivers. In fact, between 2009 and 2013, 276 lives have been lost as a result of St. Patrick’s Day DUI crashes.

As you can imagine, after having seen the results of driving under the influence (DUI)—either from alcohol or drugs—police officers, deputies and CHP officers are passionate about getting compromised drivers off the roadways. These tragic accidents cannot be undone, so if officers seem a little inflexible about drunk driving, please consider the reasons why: they are committed to preventing horrific accidents that leave gaping holes in the lives of those involved. Officers have seen these accidents first hand and are dedicated to preventing drunk drivers from hurting themselves or others.

We all know drunk driving can be prevented–it just takes a little planning.

While it’s simple, it isn’t always easy. First, always designate a driver, even if you’re just going to dinner, because this St. Patrick’s Day the green beer might just be too tasty to pass up!

Decide who will drive home. And if you are with friends who have not planned well and it appears they should not be driving home, tell them you will drive them home—and don’t take no for an answer. Figure out a way to get them (and if possible, their vehicle) home safely.

I know this can be tough. It’s hard to tell friends or family members they shouldn’t drive, especially when a few green beers have made them a little belligerent or overconfident about their driving abilities. Standing up to them can be awkward for you and embarrassing for them; but take it from me, it’s worth it. Picking them up from jail is a lot more awkward and attending their funeral is unthinkable.

Along with the harm drunk driving can cause, it’s important to remember that a DUI arrest can also be very expensive.

In Mendocino County, a person’s first DUI costs about $2,700 in court fines and fees, 48 hours in jail, the time it takes to participate in and complete an alcohol program, additional attorney’s fees, and the loss of your driver’s license for at least 30 days and up to six months. Some have estimated that by the time you pay for all of these services, plus the increases to your insurance, those green beers might cost you as much as $10,000.

Despite these costs, all of this would be getting off cheap compared the cost of ruining or taking a life as a result of an accident while under the influence.

Please, while celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year, select a designated sober driver. You never know, that sober driver could be the best lucky charm you’ve ever had.

As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com. 


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Safety · Professionalism · Community Service