As St. Patrick's Day celebrants prepare for their night of shamrocks and shenanigans, Phoenix police consider how they can keep city streets safe.
Phoenix Police Department spokesman Joel Tranter noted the department is taking extra measures during the weekend because St. Patrick's Day has long been a holiday associated with drinking.
According to information from Phoenix Police Department's Crime Analysis and Research Unit, Phoenix police issued 20 DUI citations (two in Desert Horizon Precinct) March 17, 2005; 25 DUI citations (three in Desert Horizon Precinct) March 18, 2005; 31 DUI citations (one in Desert Horizon Precinct) March 17, 2006; and 33 DUI citations (five in Desert Horizon Precinct) March 18, 2006.
Mr. Tranter noted Phoenix police plan to have driving-under-the-influence enforcement vans strategically placed throughout the Valley, as well as three motorcycle enforcement squads patrolling neighborhoods near the Valley's various Irish bars - including Northeast Phoenix's The Dubliner Irish Pub, 3841 E. Thunderbird Road.
Other bars police plan to patrol include Padre Murphy's, 4338 W. Bell Road; and Rosie McCaffrey's Irish Pub and Restaurant, 906 E. Camelback Road.
Anthem attorney Craig Boates said bartenders serving obviously intoxicated patrons can expect trouble.
According to Arizona Revised Statute 4-311, a bar is liable for property damage, personal injuries and wrongful death if it serves alcohol to someone who is obviously intoxicated or under the legal drinking age.
However, Mr. Boates said determining whether an individual is intoxicated is sometimes a difficult task.
According to Arizona Revised Statute 28-1381, the state's blood alcohol content limit for a regular DUI is 0.08.
Offenders are changed with an extreme DUI if their blood alcohol content is over 0.15, according to Mr. Boates.
He said the mandatory minimum sentence for an extreme DUI is 30 days in prison.
Mr. Tranter pointed out people are fairly cautions about drunken driving during the Christmas/New Years holiday season, but for some reason are not as prone to be as careful during St. Patrick's Day weekend.
"St. Patrick's Day is a little less under the radar for impaired drivers," Mr. Tranter said.
He is not sure why though considering the "green-loving" evening is a busier night for drunken drivers.
Mr. Tranter suggests impaired drivers use their heads when leaving St. Patrick's Day weekend events and call cabs or other designated drivers.
First-time DUI offenders pay more than $2,000 in fines, have their car insurance raised, can have their license suspended, are required to spend a specific amount of time in jail, he noted.
"A $50 cab ride is dirt cheap compared to a DUI," Mr. Tranter said.
Desert Horizon Precinct Lt. Lauri Williams said the holiday weekend does not affect her precinct too much, but she noted off-duty officers may be assigned to patrol neighborhood establishments expecting larger-than-normal crowds.
Northeast Phoenix resident Joe Stephenson plans on visiting The Dubliner Irish Pub for green beer and to meet some happy pinchers, but he does not plan on driving.
"I'll be calling a taxi that night," Mr. Stephenson said. "I have seen too many of my friends get busted on nights like these. It is just not worth it."
Lt. Williams noted residents are encouraged to get license plate numbers of any suspicious drivers, as well as which direction they are traveling to report them to the department's Crime Stop phone line, 602-262-6151.
However, residents are not encouraged to follow suspicious drivers, she added.
By Dave Casadei, Independent Newspapers