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Web letter by John Livengood: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day responsibly

For many Americans, March represents the beginning of spring, competitive basketball tournaments and St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrating the patron saint of Ireland with the belief that everyone is Irish on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day has opened the door to several festive traditions in the United States. The holiday, which is not official in the U.S., is widely celebrated with tributes to Irish culture, displays of green, feasting, parades and, most commonly, heavy drinking.

During March 2012, there were 524 alcohol-related collisions in Indiana. Of these, six resulted in fatalities. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2010, 32 percent of fatalities from motor vehicle accidents were connected to drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.

Statistics illustrate that a celebration of a patron saint has now become a symbol for partying in the United States. These trends have caught the concern and attention of law enforcement as well as responsible alcohol consumption and underage drinking prevention organizations, including Project RAD (Responsible Alcohol Distribution). To make a change, moderation and control must be highly encouraged and promoted during St. Patrick’s Day events.

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute is working with 250 state and local law enforcement agencies on a 16-day high-visibility crackdown on impaired and dangerous driving known as “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”; it began March 8. The joint forces have deployed sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols and other enforcement tactics to detect and remove impaired drivers from the roads. The Indiana State Excise Police have initiated “Intensified College Enforcement” patrols around college campuses, looking for alcohol abuse and underage drinking.

The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, a group composed of liquor store owners and a Project RAD partner, applauds law enforcement for its efforts in curbing underage drinking and excess drinking and driving. This year, we have asked our members to arm their customers with facts and figures about the dangers associated with binge drinking this St. Patrick’s Day. As small business owners, our members are part of the community, and they want to ensure safe streets and highways this weekend.

We don’t want Hoosiers to try their luck this St. Patrick’s Day. Choose to drink responsibly so that you can be around for next year’s celebration, too.

JOHN LIVENGOOD

President/CEO

Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers Partner with Project RAD

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