The St. Patrick's Day weekend is traditionally known for its festive limericks, shamrocks and green clothing, but it's also known as a drinking man's holiday, famous for green beer and foamy-headed Guinness drafts in pint glasses.
This year, though, at some participating Schenectady County restaurants and taverns, those pint glasses were emblazoned with a message warning against drinking and driving. The glasses also bore the emblems of local Police Benevolent Associations and police departments.
A slogan from the county STOP-DWI program We Will Be There to Pick You Up" " was embossed on 2,500 glasses, which were distributed free of charge to those seeking libations this weekend at participating watering holes.
The cost of the program was underwritten by the STOP-DWI, which is funded by fines imposed on people convicted of driving while impaired.
In addition, local Police Benevolent Associations supported the effort with contributions. There was no cost to county taxpayers for the glasses.
The program was as much a message to consumers as it was to bar owners. Denise Cashmere, coordinator of the STOP-DWI program said she hopes more local bars will send their bartenders to the Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) class, part of a responsible vendors program offered by the State Liquor Authority.
The goal of the program is to increase awareness of the dangers of driving while impaired to consumers, while increasing the number of establishments who receive TIPS training for servers with the overall goal of reducing injuries and death due to impaired driving.
"The TIPS program teaches servers how to control situations," said Cashmere who has trained bartenders for years. "We teach a server how to slow down fast drinkers and how to identify drinkers who are at risk of driving impaired."
All the restaurants that participated in the free pint glass program had graduated from a certified servers training program.