St. Patrick’s Day is Monday,, but the Steel City’s celebration will take place Saturday, starting with a parade and continuing with partying and revelry throughout the city.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has announced a joint DUI enforcement effort with the Pennsylvania DUI Association, the PA Liquor Control Board and local law enforcement.
“You have a lot of people that come down for the parade, you have a lot of people that go from the parade straight over to the South Side, to the bar district, you have people that come over to the North Shore,” said Pittsburgh Police Commander Scott Shubert. “It becomes a long day, so we just want to make sure that everybody is responsible with their actions.”
The number one recommendation is if you know you’ll be drinking make sure you have a designated driver.
“If you can’t have a designation driver, please make other arrangements,” said PennDOT’s Juliann Sheldon. “Call a cab or use public transportation.”
The St. Patrick’s Day holiday period has traditionally been a busy one for law enforcement agencies.
“Over the past five years, just in Pennsylvania on St. Patrick’s Day, there have been 203 alcohol-related crashes, four of those being fatalities,” said Sheldon. “In Allegheny County we’ve had the highest number in the state just on St. Patrick’s Day with 19 crashes.”
Members of the DUI Association said a DUI can cost up to $10,000 and added driving under the influence of drugs is also an offense, not just driving under the influence of alcohol. St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that had a well-known drinking component though. As such, those imbibing are asked to be aware of just how much they are drinking since some drinks, such as a Long Island iced tea, contain more alcohol than other drinks.
“Often, police officers will hear, when they stop someone and they ask if they’ve been drinking because they smell that odor of alcohol, they’ll often get a response, ‘I only had one or two drinks,’” said Cathy Tress with the DUI Assocation. “Well, one or two drinks isn’t necessarily one or two drinks. Let’s say they had those two Long Island iced teas — that’s 10 drinks.”
The PLCB is reminding restaurant and bar owners that they can deny service to people who are visibly intoxicated. The agency’s Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP) aims to cut down on drunken driving by training restaurant and bar management and staff to recognize when someone should be cut off.
On Saturday, DUI task forces along with state and local police will conduct checkpoints and roving patrols through the day.