Every year, it seems like the annual St. Patrick’s Day party gets bigger, more fun, and wilder. Millions of Americans enjoy celebrating Irish heritage, Catholic traditions, and green beer each March. It can be a lot of fun, but sometimes those emerald lagers can turn into clover-shaped, beer-tinted glasses that prevent you from driving safely.
At Clark, Clark, & Noonan, LLC, we hope that anyone who gets behind the wheel is sober so that the road is safer for everyone. However, if you do get pulled over and accused of drunk driving in New Jersey, we’re prepared to defend you.
Ocean County’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade
On Saturday, March 7, thousands of people are expected to turn up for annual festivities like Ocean County’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Sometimes, these events mix family fun like wearing green and listening to bagpipes, with binge drinking. That tendency among a few Americans, some of the approximately 27 percent of the population who celebrate at a bar or restaurant, has led police departments to step up enforcement of drunk driving laws on the holiday.
In 2019, local media reported that 11 towns planned to institute a “crackdown” involving police from the towns and drunk driving checkpoints in New Jersey. It’s likely that they’ll do something similar again this year. Even if you drink responsibly on the holiday, you can get swept up in these blanket enforcements.
How Much Do American’s Drink on St. Patrick’s Day?
According to Fortune, 13 million pints of Guinness are consumed on St. Patrick’s Day worldwide, much of it in the United States. That’s a whole lot of suds. Most adults can drink a beer an hour and process it safely, but St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday where many people drink more than they can handle.
The national legal limit is 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is lower than you might think. A couple of green beers, a pint of Guinness, or a shot of whiskey may seem like nothing, but it can push you over the limit and affect your ability to drive safely.
Drinking and Driving Alternatives
Instead of drinking and driving, and risking an unfortunate DUI arrest, St. Patrick’s Day revelers should make safer choices. You absolutely can and should celebrate the holiday you love, but you don’t need to risk drunk driving St. Patrick’s Day to have fun.
Instead, consider these drinking and driving alternatives:
- Celebrating at home. You can invite friends over within walking distance or make space for people to stay until they’re sober.
- Using a rideshare service. Services like Lyft and Uber provide an option for you to get home safely after you’ve been drinking and can be more convenient than taxis.
- Walking. Walking home after a few green beers is safer than putting yourself behind the wheel of a two-ton car.
- Appointing a designated driver who will consume absolutely no alcohol. Having a DD makes your night fun and safe. Your friend group might want to set up a rotation so that everyone shares the responsibility on different nights out.
Can I Drive If I Had a Drink and I Don’t Feel Drunk?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds us that buzzed driving is drunk driving. It’s important to remember that even BAC levels lower than the legal limit could affect your fine motor skills, concentration, response time, and vision.
Some of those low-level symptoms could cause authorities to suspect that you’re above the limit. That’s why sober driving is really the only safe driving. Many New Jersey buzzed driving DUI recipients have discovered that what they feel and what the law says are two separate things. To avoid having to call a DUI lawyer, it’s best to not drink at all if you’re driving.
Are Sobriety Checkpoints Constitutional in NJ on St. Patrick’s Day?
If you drive home after a St. Patrick’s Day party or evening out, you may find yourself stopped as part of a checkpoint organized by the police. In New Jersey, we have seen it very common for DUI checkpoints to be set up in populated areas. Some people think these checkpoints are (or should be) illegal. Some states have banned them.
Yet, they’re not considered illegal or unconstitutional in New Jersey. Instead of thinking of the checkpoint as illegal, you should pay attention to what the officers you interact with do and say. They have an obligation to respect your rights, whether you’re sober or not.
What Are My Rights at a Sobriety Checkpoint?
The United States Constitution guarantees you certain rights, no matter where you are. One of those is the right to avoid self-incrimination. When you’re stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, you don’t have to tell the police anything except your name. Always be respectful, but you are perfectly within your rights to say nothing if they ask you a question like, “Have you been drinking today?”
The authorities must have probable cause in order to detain you. Usually, that means that they smell alcohol or see you behaving as though you’re drunk. Keep calm and remember your right to remain silent. If they detain you, remember you don’t have to admit anything and that a qualified DUI lawyer can help you. You can even respond to an inquisitive officer with, “I do not want to answer any questions until I have spoken to my lawyer”.
What Do I Do If I Was Arrested for a DUI on St. Patrick’s Day?
Once you’ve been stopped at a checkpoint or by a patrol, you may consider refusing a breathalyzer or blood test. You have the right to do so, but it could result in more penalties (including the loss of driving privileges) on top of a DUI or DWI conviction.
If, unfortunately, you are detained or are arrested on St. Patrick’s Day, the law guarantees you the right to contact a lawyer. Clark & Noonan’s experienced DUI lawyers are ready to protect your rights and do everything in our power to seek the best outcome possible for your case.
Contact New Jersey DUI Lawyers Clark & Noonan for Legal Help Today
Clark & Noonan, LLC is staffed by experienced, hard-nosed lawyers who used to be prosecutors. We know how the prosecutor will approach your case, and we’re prepared to defend you to the fullest extent of our abilities.