By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than 400 people were arrested for drinking and driving over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend – that’s up 28 percent from last year, when the same amount of troopers were out on the road.

The fact that the holiday fell on a Saturday certainly came into play. Yet, the question remains as to why so many get behind the wheel after drinking, especially when there are options (free Metro Transit rides, taxis and apps like Uber and Lyft) to get people home safe.

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Dr. Timothy Walsh, a recovery specialist with Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, says there’s more people than ever abusing alcohol and DWI numbers are going up.

“We now have an epidemic for people, I would say, meeting the criteria for alcoholism or substance use disorder,” he said.

Jeremy Sutliff is a recovering alcoholic who’s been sober for more than a year. He currently works as a mentor for people struggling with alcohol abuse.

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Sutliff has two DWIs, and spent five months in jail as a consequence.

“I had [driven drunk] so many times before and didn’t get caught and when it finally happens, reality came crashing down,” he said.

Sutliff says that with all the transportation options, there’s no excuse for drunken driving.

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“They know they’re gonna have more than one drink,” he said. “So why not preplan to not drive and don’t even give yourself the option, not have the keys, not have the car.”

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield