Police: Plan before you party on St. Patrick’s Day

As one of the country’s most popular holidays, St. Patrick’s Day has long celebrated the roots of 34.2 million Americans with Irish ancestry.  In 2014 there were 18 people killed in the U.S. in drunk-driving crashes on St. Paddy’s Day.  This year, if you’ll be drinking alcohol, local law enforcement officials have some advice for you:  Don’t drink and drive.  Police will be cracking down on drunk drivers.

Tragically, March 17 has become one of the nation’s deadliest holidays.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m., March 16, to 5:59 a.m., March 18), more than a quarter (28%) of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. The early hours of March 18 were even worse:  between midnight and 5:59 a.m., nearly half of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers.  In fact, from 2010 to 2014, almost three-fourths of the drunk-driving fatalities during this holiday period involved drivers who had BACs well above the .08 legal limit, with 266 drunk-driving fatalities total.  And keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink; walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention and coordination puts drunk pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.

“We want to encourage everyone to make a plan before heading out to the festivities.  Drinking and driving is dangerous and illegal.  If you are caught driving drunk, you will be arrested,” said Public Safety Director, Everette Robbins.  “Designate a sober driver before you and your friends celebrate.  Do not wait until you’ve already been drinking to find a sober driver, and never try to drive when you’re drunk.”

Make 2017 safe.  Use this party-planning checklist to stay safe this St. Patrick’s Day.

•Party preparation:  Designate a sober, reliable driver to get you home safely.

•On st. patrick’s day:  Before you take your first sip of green beer, leave your keys at home or give them to a friend.  Ensure your designated driver has committed to a sober evening.

Fact:  In 2014, on average, 1 person was killed every 53 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in the United States.  That totaled 9,967 drunk-driving fatalities that year.  In fact, even if you have a BAC under .08, you could still be arrested and convicted of drunk driving.

Fact:  St. Patrick’s Day Is Dangerous

•Widely celebrated across the country, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest holidays due to the number of drunk drivers on the road.  The St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. Match 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18) from 2010 to 2014 saw the loss of 266 lives due to drunk-driving crashes.

•In 2014, alone, 29 people (28% of all crash fatalities) across the country were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period.

•During post-party hours, between midnight and 5:59 a.m. Match 18, 2014, nearly half of crash fatalities involved drunk drivers.

•Drunk driving kills more than 10,000 people each year in the U.S., and every single one of those deaths is preventable.

•From 2014 to 2015, fatalities in alcohol-impaired crashes increased by 3.2 percent in the U.S.

Impaired Driving Facts

•In 2015, law enforcement officers arrested more than 32,000 Michigan motorists for drunk-driving.

•Nearly three quarters of those arrested in 2015 were men (24,746).

•In 2015, 384 people died in Michigan in alcohol and/or drug-involved traffic crashes, an increase from 319 deaths in 2014.  Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center (CJIC)

•Officers from more than 170 police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State police across the state are participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over initiative, March 16-29, coordinated by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) and paid for with deferral traffic safety funds.

•During the 2016 Match enforcement effort, 621 drunk drivers were arrested in Michigan and 844 seat belt citations were issued.

Plan Before You Party

•Before celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive.  You can’t do both.

•Designate a sober, reliable driver to get you home safely from the party.

•If you’re planning on driving, commit to staying sober.

Important Things to Remember

•There’s no such thing as “OK to Drive.

•The rate at which alcohol affects you varies and is often based on factors such as alcohol content, body weight, food consumption, and how fast you drink your alcohol.

•Walking home from the bar after a night out partying?  That can be dangerous, too.  In 2014, 35 percent of the pedestrians killed in crashes had BACs of .08 or higher.  Get a sober friend to walk home with you.

•If you see someone driving drunk, call 911 when it’s safe to do so, and give a description of the vehicle to law enforcement.  With one third of all crash fatalities in the United States involving drunk drivers, it is your business.  Getting drunk drivers off the roads saves lives.

•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.

Source: Huron Township Department of Public Safety 

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