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Have a safe St. Patrick's Day and avoid a drunk driving charge

St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday this year -- which, for many, means an extended holiday filled with lots and lots of green beer.

It also means a surge in drunk driving arrests. Data from Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS) shows that drinking violations by drivers who have already been convicted of drunk driving are expected to surge 17 percent on Friday, March 17, compared to the normal daily violation rate. AMS is also predicting that violations will rise nearly 25 percent on Saturday, March 18, as party-goers and binge drinkers continuing celebrating into the weekend.

In general, the data indicates that Americans like to cut loose a little on St. Patrick's Day, which means that many people may overestimate their ability to stay sober and indulge in one or two drinks too many.

To stay safe, and avoid a DWI, consider planning ahead and use one of these options:

-- Have a designated driver at the party.

-- Arrange for a friend or relative who doesn't care for green beer and bar food to drop you off and pick you up.

-- Download a ride-sharing app onto your phone so that you can call for Uber or Lyft.

-- Put the number of a couple local cab services into your phone.

-- Party at home instead with a few of your friends and let everyone stay the night.

If you do find yourself driving home after a party or event at a bar, expect a heavy police presence on the road. If you're stopped, keep a few tips in mind:

-- Be polite and say as little as possible. Most police officers today have dash cameras that are recording everything you say or do and you don't want anything that makes you look inebriated or suspicious being shown in court.

-- Have your license, registration, and proof of insurance handy. Don't answer any other questions, however, about where you've been or what you've been doing. Don't lie, because that is an offense in itself, but politely decline to discuss what you've been doing.

-- You can refuse to participate in field sobriety tests. Do so -- that way there's less on camera to be used against you if you happen to fail the breathalyzer or urine test that's probably coming.

If you do end up arrested, contact an attorney with experience handling drunk driving cases right away.

Source: PR Newswire, "Friday St. Patrick's Day Means More DUIs Through the Weekend," March 14, 2017

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