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. Driving while impaired definitely could 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.
About half the fatal crashes on St. Patrick’s Day involve at least one driver with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2009, 37 percent of drivers and motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes nationwide had blood-alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher.
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 B.A.C. at or above the illegal limit in all 50 states.
Driving drunk on St. Patrick’s Day is not an amusing custom; it’s a crime that is, in every way, preventable.
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.”
Whether you’re traveling to Savannah’s celebration or heading to a nearby Irish pub, don’t rely on luck to keep you out of trouble. Here are some tips to keep you safe when you drive home from festivities:
• Plan for a designated driver.
• Call a cab. Program local cab company numbers into your cell phone ahead of time.
• Always buckle your safety belt.
• If you host a party March 17, make sure your guests have sober drivers, never serve alcohol to guests younger than 21, have plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks and stop serving alcohol before the party ends. Start serving coffee and dessert instead. Take car keys from anyone who even thinks about driving impaired.
On St. Patrick’s Day, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” becomes the most important Irish toast anyone can remember.
Blackwood is director of Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety