Officials remind students to be safe while drinking this weekend - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Officials remind students to be safe while drinking this weekend

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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -

Students say drinking is a typical part of St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

"College kids will make a party out of it, even if it's not St. Patrick's Day or Christmas," said UW Stevens Point Grad, Jenny Bennett.

Bennett said she's seen the effects it can have on other students.

"You're just not making as rational decisions as you would be making sober, I think that plays a big part," said Bennett.

A new study by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute found that Wisconsin ranks highest in the country for binge drinking. That's something students said happens on many holiday weekends.

"I think that because we're in Stevens Point, people tend to think that it's safe to be out like that, and I think that recently it's become more apparent that people need to be more careful," said UW Stevens Point student, Jamie Cronce.

The study found that in 2011, binge drinking caused more than 1,500 deaths, more than 48,000 hospitalizations and more than 60,000 arrests across the state.

"Yeah it is worrying, especially like this winter has been really cold, it's just so easy to be walking home, if you've had enough to drink and if you pass out," said Cronce.

This comes almost one year after the Stevens Point Coroner said alcohol contributed to the death of a UW Stevens Point student.

Police said they'll be doing all they can to prevent it from happening again.

"Throughout the evening, over this weekend and through the 19th, we have extra patrols out there," said Portage County Sheriff's Sgt. Nicki Lukas.

They said students need to remember common sense, no matter when they decide to drink.

"Be safe, make sure your friends are safe, there is safety in numbers and be careful walking home," said Lukas.

A reminder that officials hope can save lives.

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