Police urge St. Patrick’s Day drinkers to plan rides before partying

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published March 12, 2019


FERNDALE/BERKLEY — St. Patrick’s Day, a day when many people nationwide will drink copious amounts of alcohol, is here once again.

As green beer and whiskey will flow through the gullets of drinkers all around Michigan, local police will have their hands full as they look to maintain order.

With Ferndale and Berkley both having downtowns to police, the local departments are asking that those partaking in St. Patrick’s Day plan ahead and figure out how they’ll get to and from the places they’ll be drinking, as drunken driving is their No. 1 concern.

“Before you even leave the house, part of your planning on what you’re going to do that day should be planning on how you’re getting to and from the places that you’re going to visit, obviously, while not driving drunk or buzzed,” Ferndale Police Sgt. Baron Brown said.

“People are getting smarter and smarter as the years go by, as far as preparing and making sure they have an arrangement to get home, but we will inevitably run into a drunk driver or two that day, and we all know the trouble that that brings. We’ll be vigilant for that kind of behavior and take whatever actions necessary to make sure that nobody gets hurt.”

One of the things Ferndale police will be doing to get drinkers to think twice about driving, Brown said, is partnering with the ride-sharing app Lyft and handing out coupons for rides on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

The coupons will be good for Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17, and will give a $15 credit for a ride. If a person sees a uniformed officer either of those two days in Ferndale, they can ask the officer about the promotion.

“Look for our officers if you feel like you might need a ride and haven’t planned for it,” Brown said. “They should have those coupons with the promo code available, if they haven’t given them all out by the time they run into you.”

Berkley Public Safety Director Matt Koehn said the department, while patrolling the entire city, will be concentrating its patrols on the areas of the city that have more bars. They will also have additional staffing on that weekend.

As with Ferndale, Koehn urges people to plan ahead. 

“In this day and age, I mean, people make mistakes, but it’s a big mistake to drink and drive,” he said. “I think most of the time now people think ahead or plan ahead and are doing the right thing.”

While drunken driving is the big concern, both Koehn and Brown said their officers will be watching for rowdy drinkers.

“Sometimes when people have too much to drink, there’ll be an increase in arguments or fights, either at homes or at bars,” Koehn said. “We need to be ready for that.”

“If you couldn’t drink all day last month without passing out or getting sick or having to go to the hospital, you’re not going to be able to do it on March 17,” Brown said. “So don’t try. We’ll probably detox one or more people on that day because they drink too much. It is easy to reach a level of fatal alcohol ingestion. So just be careful.”