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Sober drivers, not Luck of the Irish needed when you’re celebrating

Thursday is Saint Patrick’s Day and despite its roots in Christianity it is now widely considered a secular holiday ranked as one of the highest alcohol consumption days in the United States and one of the busiest times of year for bars and restaurants.

The holiday is named for Saint Patrick, of course, the most commonly recognized of Ireland’s patron saints, who, according to Irish folklore, used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. Originating as a pre-17th century Catholic holiday, St. Patrick’s Day has gradually become more of a secular celebration of Irish culture. And we Americans love a celebration. From green beer and shamrocks to green rivers and fountains in some larger cities throughout the United States, Americans with or without Irish blood enjoy celebrating March 17.

While days like St. Patrick’s are a great time to gather with friends and celebrate life, keep safety for yourself and others in mind as you head out during the holiday which typically extends to parties on the weekend.

The “Luck of the Irish” is no plan for getting home after a 12-pack of beer. Although the United States ranks 13th behind countries like the Czech Republic, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Australia and Britain in annual per capita beer consumption, drunk driving is more of a problem here. Our higher drunk driving numbers probably have more to do with a lack of public transportation and walkability than with greater national risk-tolerance.

But for whatever reason people get behind the wheel, drunk driving might rightly be considered the number one threat to your and your family’s lives.

Drunk driving causes around one-third of all traffic fatalities in the United States, and during 2007 alcohol-impaired driving was involved in the deaths of nearly 13,000 Americans, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On average, someone in the United States is killed by a drunk driver every 40 minutes, and roughly three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related collision at some point in their life.

According to the law in all 50 U.S. states, a driver is considered legally drunk when his or her blood alcohol content level is at or above .08 grams per deciliter. To reach that level, a man weighing approximately 170 pounds would need to consume four standard drinks in one hour on an empty stomach. A woman weighing about 140 pounds would need to consume three drinks in an hour.

So essentially, it doesn’t take much to reach the legal limit, and with the novelty of green beer on tap, it’s easy to lose track of how many you’ve downed until it’s too late.

By all means celebrate. Celebrate being Irish or being Irish at heart. Celebrate the traditional Christian holiday, or celebrate because it’s a good excuse to wear green. But if you celebrate with alcohol, do celebrate responsibly.

And remember: when you visit one of our local restaurants in Jasper, for sure wear your green or risk being pinched.


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