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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Facts relating to drunk driving and St. Patrick's Day

As the fourth most popular drinking holiday of the year, St. Patrick's Day is also one of the most dangerous days to be driving on roadways in Washington and across the country. According to Alcohol Monitoring Systems, drunk driving violations are predicted to rise to about a 25 percent on March 18, which is the day after St. Patrick's Day.

AMS also notes that with more than 40,000 bars in the U.S., about 30 percent of American adults will be involved in a bar or restaurant holiday celebration. Of those adults who are planning to consume alcohol, half are expected to drink beer, about 20 percent will likely choose hard liquor and nearly 10 percent are predicted to have a combination of both.

On the St. Patrick's Day holidays between 2011 and 2015, there were 252 drunk driving fatalities. From midnight on St. Patrick's Day until about 6 a.m. the next day for those years, about a third of all traffic-related deaths involved a drunk driver.

The research was conducted by monitoring 540,000 high-risk, repeat DUI offenders who were aware they were under a court order to stay sober and were wearing alcohol-monitoring bracelets. Although participants were aware they would be penalized for their violations, the violations still skyrocketed.

If convicted, drunk driving offenders in Washington face stiff DUI penalties that can include incarceration, large fines, mandatory attendance in court-ordered rehabilitation programs and the possible loss of driving privileges. DUI defendants who wish to enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney could receive guidance through procedural motions and may be offered plea bargain negotiations with the prosecution.

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