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Good alternatives to drunk driving on or about St. Patrick’s Day.

Every day is a good day not to drive drunk or while impaired by alcohol (or by anything else), but the holidays (broadly defined) that for some are an occasion to drink, possibly to excess or in inappropriate connection to driving, are an especially good day to refrain from not driving under the influence.

There are two basic strategies for not driving drunk – attacking the drive or attacking the drink.

The drive.  Cabs are cheap, compared to lawyers, bail and increased insurance. A cab ride from Fells Point back Columbia is probably around $50.00; a DUI lawyer will likely cost you 30 to 60 times that figure, more if you hit somebody and especially if you hurt somebody. A rich meal with non-alcoholic beverages on your dime for your designated driver friend is also cheap – even if it’s at Ruth’s Chris and the bill is $70.00 with dessert for her or him – compared to your insurance deductible.  Hotels aren’t exactly cheap, but they are cheap compared to the costs of drunk driving.  In some states, liquor license holders must supply free or dirt-cheap non-alcoholic beverages to designated drivers for some parties of alcohol consumers; it’s worth it to state that one is a designated driver as the bartender will often non-bill sodas by law or smart practice for the designated driver.

If you drink moderately (e.g. 1-2 drinks), you should be able to wait out your period of influence before driving.  Rule of thumb is one hour per drink minimum; 75-90 minutes is wiser.  Most bars and restaurants will supply you with tonic water or diet Coke on the cheap or free while you wait out.

The drink.  Not drinking is always an acceptable option at all times, period, including this holiday.

Some people never drink, including proud citizens of the Republic of Ireland who observe the Feast of St. Patrick at Mass.  St. Patrick’s Day is in Ireland a Holy Day of Obligation; it is for all Latin Rite Catholics a Sunday Obligation in the middle of Lent 2013.  Lent is for most Christians including Catholics of every Rite a period of moderation and self-restraint generally and of fasting and abstinence specifically.  Eastern Catholics and most Orthodox Christians abstain from alcohol for most of Lent and some for all of Lent.

For some people regardless of ethnic or religious heritage, abstinence from alcohol is the only healthy choice, either because they are alcoholics, they take medicine or have other medical conditions incompatible with alcohol or they must engage in daily activities with which alcohol is incompatible.  Others may find Irish food, dance, poetry, music and lore of great value, but find the concept of a modern holiday built around heavy drinking just plain stupid or irresponsible.

If St. Patrick’s Day means something to you, it is your business how you celebrate it.  I will be celebrating it with good social company at an Irish breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day itself, and without alcohol.  I won’t be on the road on the night of Saturday the 16th, as I just don’t feel like dodging the bad driving of some of my future clients.

If you observe the day. enjoy and please be very safe and very wise.


  1. Faye

    Very well said! Anything that puts you or others in danger is not a celebration, it’s an act of violence!

  2. Sunday Stilwell

    Thank you for this, Bruce. As a granddaughter who never had the pleasure of meeting her paternal grandmother because she was killed by a drunk driver one month before I was born this message is crucial.

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