“Here’s to a long life and a merry one. A quick death and an easy one. A pretty girl and an honest one. A cold pint and another one!” ~ Irish proverb
Rain is falling, birds are chirping, and temperatures have not yet broken 90 degrees. It’s a beautiful spring in the Valley, and springtime in Phoenix means, Spring training, March Madness, and of course, the granddaddy of March celebrations, St. Patrick’s Day!
St. Patrick’s Day has long been a cornerstone of American society—a day when everyone gets to be honorary Irish and celebrate in the traditional spirit of Ireland, paying homage to the dynamic history of Irish immigrants to America, while also—and to many, more importantly—simply having an excuse to drink too much Guinness and green beer. It is no secret that St. Patrick’s Day revolves largely around drinking, which should not be surprising considering Ireland’s much loved whisky and poitín. In typical American fashion, however, we tend to do things to excess, which includes a longstanding culture of binge-drinking. According to the CDC, 1 in 6 Americans engages in binge drinking approximately 4 times a month, consuming, on average, 7 drinks per binge.
So is binge drinking a mostly American adaptation of this iconic Irish holiday? We have all heard the stereotypes and can likely conjure up imagery depicting a drunken Irish bar fight. But like the “Irish Car Bomb (ICB),” a favored drink at American Irish pubs (but just plain wrong and insensitive in Ireland), we can’t help but wonder if all the St. Patrick’s Day drinking traditions hold up in the motherland. Is drinking culture as prolific there as one might imagine?
According to Alcohol Action Ireland, drinking culture and binge drinking is increasingly problematic in Ireland, with steadily increasing rates, particularly among youth and women as “pub” culture has lost some of its old conservatism. According to the National Alcohol Diary Survey (2014), more than half (54%) of 18-75 year old drinkers were classified as “harmful drinkers,” and 75% of all alcohol consumed in Ireland was said to be consumed as part of a binge drinking session (2013). 1 in 5 Irish was shown to engage in binge drinking four times a month. Notice any similarities?
Ireland has some pretty tough DUI laws, as well, to try to combat traffic related fatalities, of which alcohol is a factor in 38%. According to a survey conducted in 2015, 1 in 10 Irish drivers admitted to consuming alcohol before driving in the past 12 months. Ireland’s legal limit for driving after consuming alcohol is now a .05 BAC, while Arizona’s is currently a .08 (however, there has been a push to lower that limit to .05 nationwide and is the current limit in Utah). Ireland has also instituted checkpoints with mandatory testing requirements, as well as mandatory blood testing of drivers, including those unconscious and incapacitated, involved in a collision. Refusal to give consent for a blood test is also regarded as a separate offense.
It seems even the Irish have run out of luck when it comes to drinking and driving. The good news is you can avoid a DUI whether you’re in Ireland or in Arizona if you’ve got a sober driver, so call up that green beer hating friend and buy him or her some corned beef and cabbage! For everyone out there who wants to partake in what feels like a given right to go till last call this Patty’s Day, here are some events happening around the Valley (non-alcohol related, as well J).
Keep that pot o’ gold in your pocket and stay safe out there this weekend! Designate a driver, mind your limits, and always know your rights!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day from our office to you!