It’s no blarney. If you drink and drive, not even your lucky four-leaf clover will save you from a DUI this St. Patrick’s Day. But driving while impaired could definitely cost you a pot of gold … or even your life. Yet many Americans will test their luck this holiday by riding with a drunk driver or by climbing behind the wheel while under the influence of too many green beers.
Just like on Cinco de Mayo, Halloween and Super Bowl Sunday, about half the fatal crashes on St. Patrick’s Day now involve at least one driver with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
Bad luck doesn’t begin to describe it. On St. Patrick’s Day 2009, 37-percent of drivers and motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes nationwide had blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .08 or above.
It was no party when 103 Americans were killed in traffic crashes on St. Patrick’s Day 2009. Roughly half of those fatalities involved at least one driver or motorcyclist with a BAC at or above the illegal limit in all 50 states.
Unfortunately, hundreds of partygoers will wind up drunk behind the wheel again this year, making St. Patrick’s Day a dangerous day and night out for everyone on our highways.
But unlike the traditional Irish ‘wearing of the green’, driving drunk on St. Patrick’s Day is not an amusing custom, it’s a crime. And in every way, it’s a preventable crime.
That’s why Georgia enforces DUI laws for those who drive drunk. And our simple DUI enforcement message is, if you drive impaired, you will go to jail. In Georgia, it’s Operation Zero-Tolerance. No Blarney. No exceptions.
So be responsible. Here are some proven tips to keep the luck of the Irish with you when you drive home from your festivities.
Whether you’re traveling to Savannah’s celebration in the streets or heading to your local Irish pub, don’t rely on luck to keep you out of trouble: Plan for a designated driver, don’t drink and drive, program local cab company numbers into your cell phone, pace yourself if you decide to drink, offer to be a designated driver if you’re not drinking, and always buckle your safety belt.
If you host a party March 17, don’t push your luck and don’t follow the rainbow: Follow these party safety tips instead, because hosts can be held liable and prosecuted too if someone they over-serve ends up in an impaired driving crash. To avoid that, you can make sure your guests have sober drivers, never serve alcohol to guests under 21, have plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks, stop serving alcohol before the party ends (Green beer is still beer.) Start serving coffee (but not Irish coffee) and dessert instead. And take car keys from anyone who even thinks about driving impaired. Remember, St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, but he didn’t drive home.
On St. Patrick’s Day, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” becomes the most important Irish toast anyone can remember.
For more information on impaired driving prevention this St. Patrick’s Day, see www.madd.org, www.StopImpairedDriving.org or visit us on the web at www.gahighwaysafety.org. I ask for your help in making this St. Patrick’s Day one of the safest ever.
Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety