You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and traffic accidents don’t discriminate based on nationality. Each year, the green beer often flows too freely for revelers, making it a dangerous time to drive: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 276 people died in drunken driving crashes over St. Patrick’s Day weekends from 2009 to 2013.
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In 2013, two out of five crash fatalities during St. Patrick’s Day weekend involved drunken driving, NHTSA reported. The hours after the party are the most dangerous — between midnight and 5:59 a.m. on March 18, 2013, 55 percent of crash fatalities involved drunken drivers. What’s more, from 2009 to 2013, three out of four drunken driving fatalities occurred with drivers who had blood-alcohol levels at more than double the legal limit.
NHTSA says a sober driver will be your luckiest charm this St. Patrick’s Day; the government safety agency offers the following tips to make sure you and other drivers make it home safe:
If you wait until you’ve been drinking alcohol on St. Patrick’s Day to decide how you’ll get home, you’re not OK to drive.
- Even if you’ve only had a couple of drinks, you may be impaired and shouldn’t drive. Remember, buzzed driving is drunken driving.
- In every state, it is illegal to drive while impaired by alcohol. Impairment begins before the .08 blood alcohol concentration limit set by every state.
- If you’re impaired, use a taxi or ride-hailing service, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
- If you know someone who is about to drive drunk or ride with someone who is impaired, help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely. If a friend is drunk and wants to drive, take the keys away. Don’t worry about offending someone – they’ll thank you later.
- Think cab fare is too expensive? Worried about your car being towed or ticketed if you leave it somewhere overnight? Those are weak excuses considering the average driving under the influence citation costs about $10,000. Wouldn’t you rather pay for a taxi?