Saint Patrick's Day falls on Sunday this year, and citations for drunken driving are expected to go through the roof. A report from Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems indicates that when the Irish festival falls on a weekend, drinking violations double -- at least among drivers who are court-ordered to stay off the hooch.
Drinking violations will increase by 23 percent this Saturday compared to the average rate for other years, AMS said. DUIs on Saint Patrick's Day go up by 12 percent on average.
To increase awareness of ways to control drunken driving, AMS has issued a St. Patrick's Day Pub Trivia Quiz.
The data are compiled as part of an ongoing look at the behavioral patterns of drivers who are designated as alcohol dependent, according to AMS CEO Mike Iiams.
"These are criminal offenders who know they are being monitored 48 times a day, and who know they will be caught," Iiams said. "Now imagine the people out drinking -- and drinking and driving -- who aren't being monitored."
Between 2006 and 2010, two-fifths of people killed by drunken drivers died during Saint Patrick's Day holiday periods, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Some 80 percent of fatal accidents on Saint Patrick's Day in 2010 involved a driver whose blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.
"It's a holiday of extremes," says Iiams.
Efforts to keep drunken driving down include free rides from cab companies and public transit systems. Those inclined to tie one on may be surprised to learn how many of their friends and family don't drink but would be glad to offer a ride home, as well.
"Just plan ahead, it's not that complicated," Iiams said.
AMS manufactures SCRAM, which uses noninvasive transdermal analysis to monitor alcohol consumption and integrates home detention monitoring into a single anklet. The privately held company is headquartered in Littleton, Colo.
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