Partying on St. Patrick’s Day? Avoid Driving
With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, residents of Oklahoma should make plans to celebrate safely and avoid driving drunk. Oklahoma places strict penalties on drunk drivers, and law enforcement agencies are keen to eliminate drunk driving crashes on St. Patrick’s Day.
On St. Patrick’s Day in 2013, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office organized saturation patrols and a drunk driving checkpoint. OKC residents can expect the same sort of enhanced enforcement of intoxicated driving laws this year as well.
To reduce drunken driving fatalities and injuries on St. Patrick’s Day this year, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office announced that it is stepping up patrols and sobriety checkpoints in and around Oklahoma City.
Car accidents involving drunk drivers killed 204 people in Oklahoma during 2012. The sheriff’s office has a zero tolerance policy for impaired driving and makes arrests in every case.
Oklahomans who want to have a few drinks to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day have options to avoid driving:
- Use public transportation. Metro Transit serves numerous communities in central Oklahoma, including OKC and Norman. Tulsa Transit provides bus service to residents of Oklahoma’s second-largest metropolitan area.
- Take a taxi. Cab service is affordable and readily available at all hours of the night. If you are planning to have drinks, it is often a good idea to call a local cab company ahead of time and make a reservation, especially on busy holidays like St. Patrick’s Day.
- Designate a sober driver. One of the best ways to get home safely on St. Patrick’s Day is to choose a designated driver before heading out on the town. The sober driver should abstain from drinking in order to be totally safe.
- Park your vehicle in a safe and legal location. Do not hesitate to use overnight parking; in OKC, overnight parking usually costs about $8 to $10, which is far cheaper than a drunk driving citation or paying for the injury or wrongful death of a car crash victim. Sometimes, drunk drivers cite concerns about being towed as the reason they decided to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. But there is simply no reason to risk arrest, death, or killing another person. Find a good place to park and take a sober ride home.
- Call a friend. If you are drunk, friends and family are often willing to pick you up rather than let you drive under the influence of alcohol.
- Find overnight accommodations. Although it may seem inconvenient, hotels and motels often have rooms available for walk-in guests. If you are unable to get home by way of bus, taxi, or sober driver, rent a room overnight. As with overnight parking, the cost of a hotel room is small compared with the toll of a car accident.
Oklahoma law punishes drivers with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08% or more. In many instances, a person can reach that level of intoxication without actually feeling drunk, so it is very important not to drive after drinking, even if you feel sober.
Some software companies have developed apps for smartphones to prevent drunk driving. Among these apps are:
- Drink Tracker. This “breathalyzer simulator” allows users to estimate their BAC by selecting drinks they consumed off a list. The app can track drinks for several people, provide alerts when a certain BAC is reached, and automatically tweet to the user’s Twitter account each time the person has a drink.
- BreathalEyes. This app uses a phone’s video capabilities to capture movements in the user’s horizontal gaze and runs the information through an algorithm that estimates BAC. Eye movements significantly shift when a person is drunk, and the app evaluates changes in a drinker’s gaze.
- DUICam is an engineering project from the University of California at Riverside. The free Android and iPhone app allows users to make videos of drivers who may be drunk. It is an easy way to record erratic driving maneuvers, which are a common precursor to a drunk driving wreck.
Whatever your plans for enjoying St. Patrick’s Day this year, be sure to watch out for impaired drivers on Oklahoma roads. Drive defensively, drink responsibly, and plan with care.
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