You’ll want to avoid the paddy wagon on this St. Paddy’s Day, and SFPD promises you’re courtin’ trouble if you drive drunk because they’ll be out in force at checkpoints.
St. Patrick’s Day will be different — and much better! — than it was last year, when shelter-in-place went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 17, 2020, ensuring one of the scariest and shittiest St. Patrick’s Days in memory. Things are starting to look up this year, as our recently regained “Red” tier status means limited indoor dining to go along with our parklet-happy bars and restaurants all over town. (And Eater SF has a great list of Irish bars with parklets in their How to Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in San Francisco guide for 2021.)
But the return of smaller celebrations on this traditional black out, puke and cry holiday means more people out and about drunk. And that likely correlates with more drunk driving, so the SFPD has announced DUI saturation patrols will be out all over town, ramping up at 7 p.m. Wednesday night.
⚠️ DUI Saturation Patrols Tonight ⚠️— San Francisco Police (@SFPD) March 17, 2021
The San Francisco Police Department’s Traffic Unit will be conducting DUI saturation patrols this Wednesday, March 17th, 2021, between the hours of 7:00 P.M. and 3:00 A.M.
Visit the attached link to read more ➡️ https://t.co/5aqqbSE7hB pic.twitter.com/dspQ4U0oig
“The San Francisco Police Department’s Traffic Unit will be conducting DUI saturation patrols this Wednesday, March 17th, 2021, between the hours of 7:00 P.M. and 3:00 A.M.,” SFPD said in a release today (and the bold-type emphasis is theirs). “Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized DUI checkpoints and proactive DUI patrols are conducted routinely.”
OK, specifically what are “saturation patrols?” According to the US Centers for Disease Control, “A saturation patrol (also called a blanket patrol, ‘wolf pack,’ or dedicated DWI patrol) consists of a large number of law enforcement officers patrolling a specific area for a set time to increase visibility of enforcement.” So these are technically different than “sobriety checkpoints,” but if they nail you driving drunk, you’re still looking at the exact same very severe consequences.
Happy #StPatricksDay San Francisco! Celebrate with your household, not with us - don't drink and drive, it's not worth it.— San Francisco Police (@SFPD) March 17, 2021
Visit https://t.co/UsRk2uDtai for the latest tips on going out during the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/98DDuBrBK0
“Drivers caught driving impaired can expect the impact of a DUI arrest to include jail time, fines, fees, DUI classes, other expenses that can exceed $10,000,” SFPD says in their release, “not to mention the embarrassment when friends and family find out.”
Do recall that California Highway Patrol made nearly 500 DUI arrests statewide on New Year’s Eve alone. December 31 was also the day of the fatal SoMa hit-and-run that killed two women wherein the driver was allegedly intoxicated, so driving while intoxicated charges are more likely to result in getting the book thrown at you these days.
We trust that most SFist readers have the good sense to not drive drunk. But many of us are likely to hit parklets to drink tonight, so some decorum reminders may be useful. The above image was taken at whiskey destination Casements on Mission Street, and reinforces the common-sense house rules to “Wear your mask at all times when not at your table,” “Stay 6 ft away from other guests not in your party,” and “No mixing between tables!!!!!!”
Casements, incidentally, opened right before St. Patrick's Day last year, and so this is the first time this modern Irish bar is even getting to celebrate the day.
Image: SFPD via Twitter