St. Patrick’s Day falls on a weekend this year, and thousands of folks will be Irish for a day or two, taking part in festivities from parades to festivals and, undoubtedly, drinking oceans of Guinness and green beer. But don’t expect the luck of the Irish to extend to drinking and driving, because police officers all over the state have big plans for the weekend as well.
More than 100 Colorado law enforcement agencies will be stepping up patrols and keeping watch for suspected drunk drivers beginning March 15. And if this year’s crackdown is anything like the one over St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, hundreds of people will be spending St. Paddy’s in a holding cell.
“Last year during the same enforcement period, there were 424 arrests and four fatalities statewide,” Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, said in a press release. “This year, law enforcement will continue to be out on the roads to protect lives. Be forewarned, you will get caught if you make the dangerous decision to push your luck and drink and drive.”
“Far too often, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations end in tragedy because of drunk driving,” added Fran Lanzer, Manager of Field Development at MADD Colorado. “We ask those who are 21 and older to visit madd.org and take a pledge to save lives by being a non-drinking designated driver, and we urge those who are under 21 to always avoid drinking alcohol.”
In an effort to reduce the number of DUIs in Denver during the St. Patrick’s Day enforcement period, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has joined forces with several businesses to offer special deals to revelers in the Lower Denver Downtown area. Ten-dollar cab vouchers, courtesy of MillerCoors, will be distributed for people who may have had too much drink. Denver-based DazBog Coffee will be giving away gift certificates to reward designated drivers and encourage others to switch to a non-alcoholic beverage.
Officials with CDOT and the Colorado State Patrol are also urging people to “go by the numbers.” It’s a matter of mathematics: the average bus fare or light-rail ticket in the Denver-metro area is about $3.75. The average cab fare is $22.25. And the cost of a DUI — when factoring in legal fees, fines and the increased cost of car insurance — can easily top $10,000. Now that’s a lot of green.