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Celebrate safely on St. Patrick’s Day

March 15, 2012
The Daily News

St. Patrick's Day is Saturday and with that, everyone will be thinking green: green parades, green clothing and hats, and yes of course, lots of green beer and Irish whiskey.

Drinking celebrations will be taking place all over Michigan and Wisconsin with people toasting to the Irish.

In fact, about one in 10 Wisconsin residents claims at least some Irish ancestry.

But for many Wisconsin residents-even those without Irish ancestry-St. Patrick's Day is a great time to celebrate with families and friends.

Unfortunately, some will be sampling as many shots and pints they can drink in as short of time possible.

This ritual has turned March 17 from a fun ethnic and religious holiday into one of the most alcohol-fueled days of the year.

And considering the fact that March 17 falls on a Saturday may add to the desire to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol.

"This is a fun holiday celebrated by many, and there will certainly be increased business, however it is the responsibility of our licensees to make sure that they do not over serve their patrons," said Andy Deloney, Chairman of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC).

"In addition to the health and social dangers of over serving, doing so is a violation with fines up to $1,000, with the possibility of a suspension or revocation of a license. If you're not sure, don't serve," Deloney warned tavern and pub owners.

Binge drinking occurs when a man consumes five or more drinks, or a woman consumes four or more drinks, in a short period of time.

Because women metabolize alcohol less efficiently than men and usually have less body mass, they become more intoxicated with a comparable number of drinks (one drink is generally calculated as a 12 oz. bottle of beer or wine cooler, a 5 oz. glass of wine or 1.5 oz. of 80-proof distilled spirits).

Additionally, because St. Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday this year, more people likely will be celebrating the holiday at bars and parties.

Consequently, more motorists may be tempted to drive while impaired by alcohol. To prevent impaired drivers from injuring or killing themselves and others on roadways this weekend, law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin and Michigan will be increasing their patrols.

"Drunken driving is a serious offense, and law enforcement officers don't give warnings or second chances to drivers who are impaired," says State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable, director of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Safety. "There are about 40,000 drunken driving convictions in Wisconsin each year, and for approximately three out of four of these drunken drivers it was their first conviction."

The expense, hassle and embarrassment of a drunken driving arrest are not the worst things that can happen if you drive while impaired.

On average, someone is killed or injured in an alcohol-related crash about every 2-1/2 hours in Wisconsin.

"Lives are destroyed and families suffer because of drunken drivers," says Huxtable. "Last year in Wisconsin, two people died in traffic crashes on St. Patrick's Day, which was celebrated on a Thursday. We want to reduce that to zero traffic deaths on St. Patrick's Day and everyday of the year."

Instead of risking an arrest for impaired driving on St. Patrick's Day, Wisconsin and Michigan officials offer the following suggestions:

- Before you start partying, choose a sober designated driver.

- If you're feeling buzzed, you probably are over the 0.08 (alcohol concentration) limit and should not drive.

- Take a taxi or ask a sober friend to drive you home.

- Avoid shots and drinking games.

- Be prepared to say "no thanks" to offers for more to drink, so that when it's offered you will stick to your limit.

Alcohol Use Guidelines

These guidelines are for those over 21 years who have no physical or psychological conditions or medications.

- Men: maximum of 3 drinks in any day, on a maximum of 4 days per week, or a maximum total of 10 drinks per week.

- Women: maximum of 2 drinks in any day, on maximum of 4 days per week, or a maximum total of 8 drinks per week.

- People over 55 years: Do not have more than one drink per day and do not drink daily on a regular basis.

Some sure signs of intoxication:

- Bloodshot, glassy eyes.

- Flushed face.

- Dazed look.

- Blank stare.

- Thick, slurred speech.

- Speaking loudly, then quietly.

- Rambling train of thought.

- Slow response to questions or comments.

- Obnoxious or mean.

- Inappropriate sexual advances.

- Boisterous.

- Swaying, staggering, or stumbling.

- Unable to sit straight.

- Careless with money.

- Difficulty making change.

- Restless.

- Lack of focus and eye contact.

- Difficulty standing up.

- Falling off of chair.

- Can't find mouth with glass.

- Falling down.

- Difficulty lighting cigarettes.

- Repeated trips to the restroom.

Enjoy the holiday, but remember, don't try to out-drink the Leprechaun.



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