As of Thursday, March 17, 2016
OKANOGAN — The Washington State Patrol is reminding people who choose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with alcohol not to get behind the wheel impaired.
As one of the nation’s most popular holidays, St. Patrick’s Day has long celebrated the roots of 34.2 million Americans with Irish ancestry.
But in 2014 there were 18 people killed in drunk-driving crashes on the holiday in the U.S., according to the patrol.
This year, if you’ll be consuming alcohol or using marijuana, local law enforcement officials say, “don’t drive impaired.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m., March 16, to 5:59 a.m. to March 18), more than a quarter (or about 28 percent) of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. The early hours of March 18 were even worse. Between midnight and 5:59 a.m., nearly half of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers.
“Please keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink,” officials said. “Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention and coordination puts drunk pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.”
Local law enforcement arrested 2,162 drivers for DUI in Spokane County last year. Because of this effort, Spokane County is seeing a decrease in impaired driving fatalities.
“We are greatly encouraged by the downward trend in impaired driving fatalities,” Trooper Jeff Sevigney said, noting Spokane County officials arrested 2,162 intoxicated drivers. “However, we still want to encourage everyone to make a plan before heading out to the festivities.”
“Impaired driving is dangerous and illegal,” he said. “If you are caught driving impaired, you will be arrested.”