Lansing police, community satisfied with St. Patrick’s Day safety

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Lansing police officers and residents alike said that they are pleased with the safety of St. Patrick’s Day in Lansing, this year in particular.

Lansing Police Department Public Information Officer Robert Merritt said that after glancing at the arrest log, he didn’t think the number was over 10 arrests for this St. Patrick’s Day.  “We really didn’t have any spike in arrests for drunk driving or impaired people.”

In preparation for the sometimes raucous holiday’s festivities, the Lansing Police Department issued safety tips for the community.  According to the press release, Lansing Police Chief Michael Yankowski said he wanted to ensure that the safety of both those who wanted to celebrate and those who didn’t was the top priority.

“Lansing Police’s priority is the publics’ safety, so please be responsible as you celebrate,” Yankowski said in the release.  Tips included:

  • Designate a sober driver before a party begins,
  • Pace alcohol consumption and
  • Call a cab or use public transportation if you drink.

The release also stated that there would be added special police patrol the weekend prior to St. Patrick’s Day as well as on Monday, March 17th.  Officers and the downtown Community Police Officer remained on foot patrol in the downtown area.

Calm St. Patty’s in Lansing

“I think our word on the street as well as my office putting out a reminder to be careful…as well as the weather really helped us out,” said Merritt.

“In years past, we’ve had 70, 60 degree weather where I think you see a little more outside activity,” he said.  Merritt believes that the combination of poor weather, early precautionary information and increased patrol presence kept things under control.

He also said he believed that because it fell on a Monday this year, “a lot of bars and people celebrated St. Patrick’s Day prior – like Friday, Saturday, Sunday – so they may have just been worn out.”

Nonetheless, three friends were still going strong and celebrating outside of Kelly’s Irish Pub and Restaurant.  All three agreed that Lansing was a relatively safe place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

“Compared to many other places, yes,” one said, while another specifically mentioned that celebrating in Lansing was much safer than in Detroit or Chicago.

Consequences for drunk driving

Merritt said that the consequences for drunk driving are severe.  Upon merely a person’s first time caught with a .08 blood-alcohol level – a misdemeanor charge – he or she could face up to 93 days in jail, a $500 fine and 360 hours of community service.  Along with this, six points are added to his or her license, and the license could be suspended for up to 180 days.  All drunk drivers are also subject to $1,000 in additional fees for two consecutive years.

And Merritt said it only goes up from there.  On a person’s third time caught drunk driving, it becomes a felony and there is serious jail time involved.

Michigan’s chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said that there are many unforeseen consequences of drunk driving as well.  The victims of a crash are not only the people directly involved, but also their loved ones, said Representative Sue Strong.

“We refer to them as crashes and not accidents,” Strong said, explaining that when alcohol impairment is the cause, someone is responsible and at fault for the poor choice they made to drink and drive.

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