Police cracking down on St. Paddy’s binge drinking

Emerald-clad revellers will keep first responders busy into Monday as they throw back pint after pint of matching suds.

“I think everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Ottawa police Sgt. Iain Pidcock.

“It’s traditionally one of our busier weekends, because celebrations tend to involve a little bit more alcohol than normal.”

Weekends generally yield more calls for booze-related incidents, he said.

Having said that, Friday night was fairly tame.

“When you think back to a year ago when the weather was a lot warmer, obviously that had an impact, you know, with people getting out more,” Pidcock said.

Saturday’s high was -7C, hovering around -16C with the windchill.

“The cold weather tends to keep people indoors a little bit more too, so they’re not as likely to hang around outside and cause a disturbance,” said Pidcock.

Commotion caused by binge-drinking is split among women and men, said paramedic Supt. Gary Chamberlain.

“Mostly, it’s they’ve drank to excess and now they’re passed out on the floor and unresponsive,” said Chamberlain.

“There’s a whole bunch of medical issues that way.”

On the flip side, ‘liquid courage’ often leads to scraps and more serious matters, “and police have to deal with it more than us,” Chamberlain said.

Cops are working to minimize disturbances across the city and Liquor Licence Act offences will be strictly enforced.

Same goes for the Highway Traffic Act.

City cops are teaming up with the OPP and RCMP as they double their RIDE checkpoints on Sunday.

Last year Erin Vance, a 26-year-old single mother of twin boys, was struck and killed by an SUV while walking along Bayview Dr. in Constance Bay after leaving St. Patty’s Day festivities at their local bar early March 18.

Jeremy Rees, then 23, had been drinking for more than 12 hours and fled the scene, turning himself in the next day.

Rees is serving a five-year sentence for impaired driving causing death and failing to remain at the scene.

Police are offering up simple advice.

“Just enjoy alcohol responsibly, make sure you don’t drink and drive, and it’s always good to have sober friends to keep you in line,” Pidcock said.

Last year, 800 motorists were stopped.

Three drivers were arrested, and one received a three-day suspension for being in the “warn range,” with a blood alcohol concentration level between 0.05 and 0.08.

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

Irish facts

Over the past seven years, nearly 4,000 people have come to Canada from Ireland as permanent residents. Here are three ways to throw down like the Irish on St. Paddy’s Day:

-Say “no” to green beer and “sláinte” to real Irish brews
-Try a traditional Irish breakfast: black and white puddings (cakes of congealed blood and pork), grilled tomato, rashers (Irish bacon), eggs and bangers (Irish sausage)

-Since St. Patrick’s Day is the feast day of Ireland’s patron saint, it was customarily celebrated by going to church.
-If pubs are more your thing, think Grace O’Malley’s, Heart & Crown, D’Arcy McGee’s, Aulde Dubliner & Pour House.

-Traditional Irish song and dance are a great way to let loose and celebrate.

Sources: Guinness, Citizenship & Immigration Canada


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