Mardi Gras is deadliest state holiday

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According to Highway Safety Commission records and reports, Drunk drivers contribute to Mardi Gras’s status as deadliest state holiday.

Drivers should be extra cautious due to the number of pedestrians on or near streets and highways as well as the number of vehicles dis-obeying and ignoring traffic laws in order to get to a parade or find a parking spot. Drivers should also be aware that Orleans Parish and surrounding areas routinely increase patrols over the carnival period.

Everybody knows of the great, favorable economic impact Mardi Gras has on Louisiana and how the carnival celebrations help attract thousands of tourists to our state. Less known, however, is that Mardi Gras has traditionally ranked among the most dangerous holiday periods for Louisiana motorists.

In 2009, Mardi Gras ranked as the deadliest holiday period in Louisiana with 22 people killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes. The Mardi Gras period, well known for the heavy partying that surrounds it, also results in a high percentage of alcohol involved crashes. Last year 68 percent of the Mardi Gras holiday deaths occurred in alcohol-involved crashes–well above the annual state average of 48 percent alcohol involvement in fatal crashes.

Motorists should be aware and forewarned that State Police and many local police departments and sheriffs’ offices will be out in force over the Mardi Gras period removing drunk drivers from the roads and checking for other violations. These enforcement agencies will be working overtime hours financed through grants provided by the Commission.

―Law enforcement traditionally focuses its efforts on periods when there are likely to be higher numbers of violators and crashes, and Mardi Gras is certainly one of those periods, a State Police spokesman indicated.

In recent years, the Louisiana Legislature has passed a number of laws that increase penalties for DWI convictions. A DWI arrest can result in jail time, lawyer’s fees, fines, driving restrictions, increased insurance costs and many other serious consequences.

Average traffic crash fatality rates for holidays during the 2008-2009 period are as follows:

Mardi Gras: 19.0 deaths, 68.5 percent were alcohol related

Memorial Day: 10.5 deaths, 66.4 percent were alcohol related

Fourth of July: 5.0 deaths, 62.5 percent were alcohol related

Labor Day: 8.0 deaths, 70.9 percent were alcohol related

Halloween: 14.5 deaths, 76.5 percent were alcohol related

Thanksgiving: 18.0 deaths, 31.2 percent were alcohol related

Christmas: 9.0 deaths, 26.7 percent were alcohol related

New Year: 3.0 deaths, 30.0 percent were alcohol related

If you are arrested for DWI or other alcohol related offenses in New Orleans or the surrounding area, call the offices of Harmon, Smith and Vourvoulias for immediate assistance. We can be reached at 504.680.4319 or 504.480.4303 or any of the toll free numbers listed on our web site. You can also contact us immediately by using the email link on our web site.

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Categorized as Blog, DUI, DWI

By George Vourvoulias

George is a founding member and managing member of Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C., a New Orleans law firm. George concentrates his practice in maritime personal injury, construction litigation, personal injury, workers' compensation, medical malpractice, and DUI defense. George Vourvoulias's Google+ Profile