​​​​​No luck of the Irish for dru​​​nk drivers

March 16, 2023

Whether you're hitting a St. Patrick's Day parade or celebrating with a green beer at a local bar, you don't have to be Irish to get in on the fun on Friday.

But to keep it fun while you take in the parades, parties, music and favorite beverages, plan for a sober ride home to get everyone home safe. To stop bad choices from jeopardizing lives as people enjoy the celebration, troopers, deputies and officers are participating in a statewide DWI extra enforcement campaign this weekend. Our Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) coordinates the campaign with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A green, four-leaf clover background with text that says driving is not a drinking game. Drive sober. Drive Smart! Extra Enforcement Now.

Since St. Patrick's Day is on Friday, the likelihood of impaired driving increases — but it's a risk no matter which day of the week the celebration occurs. From 2015 to 2022 over the St. Patrick's Day holiday, there were more than 1,400 DWI arrests and 169 alcohol-related crashes in Minnesota.

Each DWI risks the loss of a license for up to a year, thousands of dollars in costs and possible jail time. Repeat offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above blood alcohol-concentration, must use an ignition interlock device to regain their driving privileges.

Even with all those costs, it's still better than what would happen if they got into a crash. Getting behind the wheel while impaired, whether it's by alcohol or other substances, is incredibly dangerous. Alcohol-related crashes not only take lives, they change them forever. Alcohol-related crashes cause an average of 377 life-changing injuries each year. Those crashes can leave people with chronic pain, medical bills and other problems that follow them for years.

Keep the holiday fun and safe by always planning a sober ride before going out with friends and family. Drive smart by following these OTS recommendations:

  • Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a safe, alternative transportation option, or stay at the location of the celebration.
  • Speak up — Offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere. If you see an impaired person about to get behind the wheel, get them a safe ride home.
  • Buckle up — the best defense against a drunk driver.
  • Report drunk driving — call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.

Wear that green proudly this St. Patrick's Day but remember: Drinking and driving is the one sure way not to get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.