Extra patrols on the lookout for drunk drivers on St. Patrick’s Day

Drinks made with Irish whiskey.
Seal Beach Police Chief Michael Henderson advises St. Patrick’s Day observers to “Leave your keys at home and plan ahead before you celebrate.”
(Jared Gase)

Police this week urge those who want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a drink or two to let someone else give them a ride to and from festivities and will be fielding extra patrols on the lookout for drunk drivers.

Between 2016 and 2020, 287 people were killed in crashes involving drunk drivers on or around St. Patrick’s Day, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

In 2020, 11,654 people died in DUI-related crashes. That averages to one person killed every 45 minutes.

“Leave your keys at home and plan ahead before you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,” Seal Beach Police Chief Michael Henderson said. “Designate a sober driver, schedule a ride share or make other plans to get home safely if you plan to consume alcohol.”

Each year, police in Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Seal Beach and communities throughout the country increase their presence on the street in hopes of deterring drunk drivers or getting them off the road before a potential tragedy.

About one-third of all fatal crashes reported on St. Patrick’s Day in 2020 involved alcohol.

NHTSA officials advised partygoers to make arrangements for a sober ride home and to look out for others who might not be fit to drive. They also reminded designated drivers that it’s their responsibility to get people home safely and noted that alcohol is not the only substance that can impair a driver.

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