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Aftermath: St. Patrick’s Day Alcohol-Related Arrests

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the St. Patrick’s Day festivities that recently concluded also resulted in plenty of DUI and alcohol-related arrests.

Many Americans decided they were a little bit Irish last Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but the binge drinking associated with the holiday often goes well beyond a couple of extra pints at the bar. Roughly 80 percent of drunk driving deaths on St. Patrick’s Day involve drivers whose blood alcohol level is nearly twice the legal limit.

Los Angeles appears to be the city that partied the hardest over the three-day festivities, with 570 people arrested across L.A. County on suspicion of DUI and that number expected to rise as more agencies report their total arrests. Meanwhile, the annual “Blarney Blowout” at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst attracted 4,000 people for a day of “extremely disturbing and unsafe” partying, with one apartment complex alone sparking 73 arrests. The college-heavy city of Baltimore also made 120 arrests for DUI over the weekend.

California appears to be the state with the most binge-drinking residents during St. Patrick’s Day, but other states gave them a run for their money. The Minnesota state patrol reported a shocking 495 DWI patrol arrests over the Paddy’s Day weekend, while the DUI task force in Arizona made 413 arrests at various checkpoints scattered throughout the state. Even relatively pint-sized towns and cities across the country recorded big arrest numbers. The historical town of Newport, R.I., handcuffed 89 people for alcohol-related arrests, while state troopers in Savannah, GA, arrested 75 people for DUI during the St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

But despite the high amount of dangerous alcohol-fueled behavior across the country, many of these same cities are also recording a marked decrease in this behavior compared to last year. Police in Boston issued 293 citations for public drinking during the parade and made five alcohol-related arrests along the parade route, compared to 336 citations and 26 arrests last year. The arrest count in Des Moines, IA, dropped from 33 in 2013 to 17 this year, while law enforcement in Butte, MT, recorded 12 DUI arrests in the town that has handcuffed up to 100 people during the four-day festivities.

Even college towns known for their hard-partying lifestyle managed to curb some of the out of control drinking. Police in State College, PA, reported a 75 percent decrease in arrests and citations this year compared to 2011, largely fueled by Penn State paying licensed liquor establishments to stay closed during “State Patty’s Day.”

Based on the decrease in DUI and alcohol-related arrests in many cities compared to last year, it appears that local government and law enforcement officials have taken active steps to address the issue. The increase in DUI checkpoints throughout many states have led plenty of drinkers to actively select a designated driver or simply stay home, while many bartenders who wish to avoid unruly patrons themselves are more readily cutting people off. Luckily, this looks to be a trend that will continue in the coming years.