Cops nail one impaired driver, 26 traffic violations in St. Paddy’s RIDE stops in Courtice, Oshawa, Whitby


Published March 18, 2022 at 2:16 pm

St Patrick

Durham Police caught one impaired driver and charged 26 with highway traffic violations in their annual St. Patrick’s Day RIDE program stops across the Region.

Police set up checkpoints in Courtice, Oshawa and Whitby to monitor drivers as they celebrate Irish culture on the traditional death day of the island’s patron saint.

St.Patrick is acclaimed across Christian communities for converting the Irish people to the faith from their earlier wide-spread Pagan beliefs.

Patrick, a Romano-British man most likely born in what is now Wales, was the son of a fourth-century Roman city senator or ‘decurion.’ Patrick’s father is also said to have been a church deacon, but Patrick says he was not much of a believer in his youth in his Confessions.

Legend tells Patrick awakened to Christianity after he was abducted by Irish raiders and spent six years as an enslaved shepherd.

After a daring escape back to Britain, Patrick returned to Ireland years later as a priest, spreading the gospel throughout and (legend tells) using a three-leafed clover to explain the Holy Trinity to Celtic pagans.

Traditionally, St Paddy’s (short for the Irish spelling, Pádraig) was a solemn day of religious observance honouring St. Patrick’s efforts.

Prohibitions on drinking alcohol during the fast season of Lent were lifted on St Patrick’s Day. Over time, this lead to a close association between the day and drinking to celebrate.

As the Irish diaspora spread around the world over the following centuries, they brought St. Patrick’s celebrations with them. The exodus from Ireland peaked during the Great Famine of 1845-1852, which saw one million Irish people dead and more than a million more emigrated.

The Irish population fell by around 25 per cent from 8.5 million as a result and has never recovered to pre-famine levels, currently sitting at around 5 million.

More than 80 million people around the world now claim Irish ancestry. The sheer size of this diaspora brought St. Patrick’s Day to countries around the world, often creating a bigger celebration than in Ireland itself.

More than 1.2 million Irish people immigrated to Canada between 1825 and 1970, more than half by 1850. By the time of Confederation in 1867, one in four Canadians were of Irish descent, forming the second largest ethnic group in the country.

As of the 2016 Census, 4.6 million Canadians reported Irish heritage, 13.4 per cent of the country.

St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in Canada since at least 1759 when Irish soldiers stationed at the Montreal Garrison celebrated after the British conquest of New France.

Montreal, which quickly developed a large Irish-Canadian community as the first stop for immigrants, hosted one of the world’s first St Paddy’s parades in 1824. The parade has gone ahead every year since.

St Patrick’s Day is now celebrated across the country, but is only an official holiday in Newfoundland.

As with any large scale celebration, alcohol consumption proves rampant on St. Patrick’s Day in Canada, and that brings impaired driving with it.

Interlock device manufacturer SmartStart reports that in 2016 alone, 60 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the holiday period, which amounts to 39 percent of crash fatalities overall. And 75 percent of fatal St. Patrick’s Day car crashes involve a driver with a BAC that’s twice the legal limit.

As a result, police forces across Ontario step up their RIDE programs on St. Patrick’s Day. DRPS, from its three stop locations, caught only one drunk driver, but another driver was handed a three-day suspension after blowing a WARN in a breathalyzer. Another 26 drivers caught Highway Traffic Act charges.

“Before heading out to celebrate all things Irish this St. Patrick’s Day, please be sure to have a sober ride home in place,” said MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer Andrew Murie, “Rely on good planning, not good luck, to get home safely.”

“Every year, hundreds of people are killed and thousands injured in crashes involving alcohol and/or drugs. These tragedies are 100% preventable,” MADD continued.

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