St. Patrick’s Day throughout History
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17th in observance of the death of St. Patrick, a Catholic priest who died more than a thousand years ago. In the 17th century, Ireland recognized St. Patrick as a patron saint of Ireland and March 17th was observed as a religious holiday and feast day. But this was definitely no boozy feast; to the contrary, St. Patrick’s Day was actually a dry holiday in Ireland. Up until the 1970s, Irish law prohibited pubs from opening on March 17th as a mark of respect for this religious day. Irish officials thought keeping the pubs open on this day would be too tempting for those observing lent and drunkenness would undermine the solemnity of the religious holiday. So how did this holiday shapeshift from a day of religious reverence to a day a ruckus and drunken revelers? Some historians believe that this evolution of St. Patrick’s Day is perhaps an Irish-American construct, since the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in New York City on March 17, 1762 when Irish soldiers serving with the British army marched through the city to a local tavern.
St. Patrick’s Day Today
At present day, the holiday is celebrated across the world with festivals, parades, special Irish foods, lots of green, festive music and dancing, and oftentimes a whole lot of drinking. According to Business Insider, the U.S. is the biggest celebratory of the holiday, although St. Patrick’s Day festivities can be found across many parts of the world, whether it be Ireland or Australia. For many, it is one of the most fun days of the year
A 2017 WalletHub article and infographic showed just how green of a holiday St. Patrick’s Day really is—and not just because 82.5 percent of revelers plan to wear green on March 17th. This holiday is big business: 56.1 percent of Americans plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and a whopping $5.3 billion will be spent on St. Patrick’s Day. Worldwide, 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed. (Guinness is Ireland’s most popular beer—it’s a traditional Irish stout beer with a deep color and caramelized flavor).
Whether revelers are drinking Guinness, Irish car bombs, green Jell-O shots, frosty mugs of green beer, or whatever their go-to libation may be, St. Patrick’s Day is the fourth most popular drinking day of the year (New Year’s Eve, Christmas Day, and Independence Day take the top three spots respectively.) This year, St. Patrick’s Day 2018 falls on a Saturday, which typically translates into even more partying and crazier celebrations as most people won’t have to deal with pesky things like work or school. Also, celebrations will run all weekend long from Friday to Sunday. Some cities and universities even have St. Patrick’s Day events the week and weekend preceding the actual holiday. Moreover, spring break at many colleges around the country overlaps with St. Patrick’s Day.
In 2015, 30 people were killed in drunk driving crashes on St. Patrick’s Day. A staggering 75 percent of fatal St. Patrick’s Day crashes involved drivers with a BAC double the legal limit. Currently, the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers of legal drinking age (21 and over) is .08%. That means 75 percent of these drivers had a BAC of at least 0.16%. New Jersey, like many other states, has enacted stricter law with enhanced sanctions for drivers with a higher BAC.
In New Jersey, the penalties are much stricter for a first time DUI offender with a BAC of 0.08% but less than .10% than compared to a first time DUI offender with a BAC of .10% or higher. Also, if your BAC was 0.15% or higher, offenders will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their car– with this device the driver has to blow into the device and the vehicle will not start if the driver has a blood alcohol content over a certain level.
Hoboken, NJ has found itself at the center of St. Patrick’s Day mayhem. The city no longer hosts its beloved annual after disaster that was 2011—where, according to this Vice Magazine article, 34 people were arrested 136 were transported via ambulance. Police reports cited citizens holding up various residents of an apartment building at knifepoint, attempting to steal bottles of Grey Goose from a bar, and being beaten to a pulp by “men wearing green T-shirts and jeans.”
In a note to Hoboken residents on NJ.com, the parade committee announced the cancellation of the parade blaming “the city of Hoboken’s inability to protect our spectators, bands and participants” for the decision.
What are your plans for St. Patrick’s Day? Will you be attending Jersey City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade or the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Newark, NJ? Will you be out drinking at any of the slew of local Irish bars around town. Going to a house party? Irish Cultural event? Four-leaf clover hunting?
Do not test your luck. St. Patrick’s Day may be one of the most fun days of the year but it is also statistically one of the most dangerous days of the year.
Here are some tips to help you stay safe and out of trouble:
- Plan before you party. Before you start drinking, plan your sober ride home. Make sure your designated sober driver does not drink. Use a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft. While prices will be more expensive due to increased demand on holidays, both of these apps let your split the cost of the ride with the people in your group. You can also use the lowered priced UberX and LyftLine services where you will carpool with other riders.
Keep in mind, that your safety is more important than money. Not only is St. Patrick’s Day a deadly holiday with a massive increase in drunk drinking fatalities, if you get a DUI on St. Patrick’s Day or any day, you can expect to pay upwards of $10,000 in court and legal fees. So, by comparison, a $100 Uber ride pales in comparison to the financial and life consequences of a DUI conviction.
- Be aware of pedestrians and parades. People, cars, floats, drunken leprechauns, will be darting around the streets at all directions, often ignoring traffic signals and right of way laws. Whether you are driving or on foot, obey all crosswalk traffic signals, traffic lights, and laws of the road; additionally, you need to be especially vigilant about taking in your surroundings and expect crazy behavior, actions, and driving from others.
- Use public mass-transit to get around. Make sure you are familiar with the transit system and its holiday route and schedule before you use it. The last thing you want is to be drunk at 3 in the morning on a subway platform waiting for a subway that you’re not sure will arrive or even has a route close to your home or final destination or home for the night.
- Report hazardous driving by dialing #77. Call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency.
- Know the signs of alcohol poisoning.
- Make sure you eat and pace your drinking. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
- Keep an eye on your drinks and make sure you watch the person making and/or serving your drinks.
- Use the buddy system. Stick with your friends. No one gets left behind. If someone goes missing, immediately try to contact them. Have a predetermined plan about what to do if someone gets separated form the group.
Here at the Law Office of Eric Mark, we hope you have a fun and most importantly safe St. Patrick’s Day 2018. However, if you get into trouble with the law during St. Patrick’s Day (or any other day of the year), I urge you to strongly consider your options for legal representation and consult with an experienced New Jersey DWI and criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal process.
I have extensive experience defending DWI charges, underage drinking and driving, public intoxication, assault defense, drug crime and drug possession defense, as well as other criminal and traffic related matters in the New Jersey court system. The stakes are too high to fight any of these charges on your own—contact the Law Office of Eric M. Mark to discuss your situation.
Call 973-453-2009 to schedule your free consultation with a criminal defense and DWI attorney in Jersey City, NJ and Newark, NJ.