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Don't press your luck by drinking and driving over St. Patrick's Day weekend

March 15, 2019 - 10:43
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State and local law enforcement will be taking all impaired drivers they find to jail

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A four leaf clover, rabbit’s foot or any other good luck charm will not keep you out of jail if you make the foolish decision to drink and drive during the St. Patrick's Day weekend.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement remind everyone that the state’s zero tolerance policy remains in effect and all drunk and drugged drivers found on the road will find themselves sitting in a jail cell wearing an orange jumpsuit.

“There are going to be St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Savannah, Dublin, and other places around our great state,” Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Law Enforcement Services Director Roger Hayes said. “The one place we don’t want people to celebrate is behind the wheel of a motor vehicle if they have been drinking. From ride share services to taxi cabs to designated drivers, plan a safe, sober ride well before the party begins.”

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, 12 people were killed in 3,137 crashes that happened over a three-day period during last year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Georgia, 119 of them caused by drunk or drugged drivers.

“St. Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays where troopers see a spike in impaired driving,” said Colonel Mark W. McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against Georgia law and compromises the safety of everyone on the road, so if you drive impaired you will be arrested,” he added.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol was a factor in one out of every four traffic deaths in Georgia in 2017.

“Drinking and driving is a mistake that can never be corrected when someone is killed or permanently injured because of a crash,” Hayes said.  “You will enjoy whatever event you are celebrating more by not having to worry how you are going to get home and having a sober ride arranged before the party begins.”

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety also offers these options and safety reminders:

  • Schedule a ride with a rideshare service or cab company before leaving for your party
  • Download NHTSA’s free SaferRide app, available on Apple and Android devices, which can connect you to a local cab company or friend to pick you up
  • Let friends and family know you will come pick them up if needed
  • Offer to drive if know someone is too impaired to get behind the wheel and you are sober to drive
  • Reward designated drivers with free non-alcoholic beverages

If you are the designated driver, make sure you keep an eye out for pedestrians. Also, drive carefully and defensively. You may be sober, but that may not be true for the other drivers or pedestrians on the roads. If you suspect someone is driving impaired, do not hesitate to notify local law enforcement. You could save someone’s life.

In addition to planning a safe ride home, partygoers should stay hydrated and not leave their drinks unattended. Party hosts should serve lots of food, have non-alcoholic beverage choices, keep a watchful eye on their guests, and have the phone number of local cab companies on hand should someone need them. But most importantly, if you see someone who is about to drive impaired, try to help them make other arrangements to get home safe.

For more information on GOHS' impaired driving awareness programs, visit https://www.gahighwaysafety.org