Stay Safe on St. Patrick’s Day

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Irish pubs across Orlando will be serving up gallons of green beer on March 17 as thousands of revelers take to the streets in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s one of the biggest parties across America, a day when everyone is considered Irish as they honor the patron saint of Ireland. Orlando even has a website dedicated to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the best places to party in town.

But the revelry can get out of hand if it leads people to drink and drive. Drunk-driving crashes killed 877 people in Florida in 2012, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Dram Shop Laws

A drunk driver who injures or kills someone in a car accident can face criminal charges. Even a party host or bar that lets an obviously intoxicated person continue throwing back green beers or shots of Irish whiskey may be liable under Florida’s dram shop laws. However, the dram shop laws are limited, and it is difficult for an injured person to hold a bar or individual liable.

Typically, restaurants, bars and party hosts can be held liable only if they served alcohol to a person under 21 or someone who was known to be “habitually addicted” to alcohol. Otherwise, a server or restaurant would have to be recklessly negligent in order to face criminal charges.

Protect Your Guests

If you are putting on a party this St. Patrick’s Day, take these simple steps.

  • Call a cab. The best way to keep someone from drinking and driving is to get a taxi or to designate a sober driver.
  • Keep food available. People who drink on an empty stomach are more likely to get drunk quicker. Eating helps absorb the alcohol in a person’s system.
  • Cut off drinking games. Anything that speeds up the drinking process, such as beer pong or quarters, simply encourages intoxication. Avoid them.
  • Cork the whiskey bottle. Drinking shots of hard liquor chased with beer is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Nobody should drive after combining liquor and beer.
  • Provide water and soft drinks. Provide non-alcoholic beverages, including cold water and soft drinks.
  • Smell the coffee. Brew a pot of fresh coffee and encourage friends to have a cup before they go home. It will give them time to sober up and think twice before they get behind the wheel.

St. Patrick’s Day should be a joyous occasion, not one filled with tragedy. Celebrate safely, stay alert for drunk drivers and if you are in an accident caused by a drunk driver, understand your legal options.