BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — For those 21 and older, you may be marking the holiday with a shamrock martini or Irish coffee but if you plan to toast to the luck of the Irish, law enforcement reminds you to do so safely.
Fueled by liquid courage, it only takes a second of lapsed judgement to get behind the wheel.
As a board member of ‘Mothers Against Drunk Driving’ said, that decision will have prolonged consequences: “Look, ‘Mothers Against Drunk Driving’ doesn’t have any objection to people going out and having a good time. We just want them to get home from that good time, safely, right?”
Saint Patrick’s Day is a cause for celebration but one thing, Board Member of ‘Mothers Against Drunk Driving’ Matt Clark, doesn’t want it to cause is a DUI crash.
For those 21 and older, the March holiday may include alcohol. Clark said specifically in Kern County the risk is higher when alcohol is involved, citing stats from the local district attorney’s office.
“We live in a community that has record drunk driving rates, record drunk driving deaths. On average, this number is astounding, okay? On average, there are twelve DUI arrests per day. That’s over 4,000 DUI arrests a year,” said Clark.
According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, more than a third of crash fatalities involved a drunk driver during the St. Patrick's Day period, which is March 16 to March 18. From 2016 to 2020, 287 people died in drunk-driving crashes during that time.
The Bakersfield Police Department said they won’t have DUI checkpoints or increased traffic stops for the holiday but will still monitor the roads Thursday night.
Meanwhile, CHP Bakersfield told 23ABC that it’s business as usual on their end because St. Patrick’s Day is not a maximum enforcement holiday. Both law enforcement agencies posted to Facebook to drive safely and sober.
Clark said it’s important to have common sense and have a plan.
“If you know you’re going to go out and have a good time, have a way to get home safely. There’s DEI, there’s Uber, there’s Lyft, there’s taxi’s, there’s having a designated driver. There’s calling a loved one who hasn’t had any to drink to come pick you up.”
If it's your first DUI, according to some stats MADD Kern County has shared, you could face up to six months of county jail time. You could pay up to $390 to $1,000 in fines.
You could even have your driver's license suspended for 4-10 months, and three or nine months of DUI school is on the table too.