March 15, 2005
TFC Larry Schnall or Gordy Wright
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“St. Patrick’s Day has become a big night out for many people, especially young adults,” Colonel Hitchens said, “but the festivities can quickly turn tragic at the hands of an impaired driver.” He echoed the call for a designated driver before the celebrating begins. “Designating a sober driver before the celebration and making sure friends don’t drive drunk are just two simple steps you can make to avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for driving under the influence,” he noted.
Colonel Hitchens said troopers across the state would be teaming with local law enforcement officers for stepped up patrols to target impaired drivers as well as helping secure celebrations across the state. “Troopers will be assisting local officers in Savannah for the massive St. Patrick’s Day Parade and then patrolling Thursday night for impaired drivers,” he said.
State troopers encourage party hosts to take steps in advance to make for a safe celebration. Hosts should be sure all of their guests designate a sober driver in advance; have the telephone numbers for local cab companies handy; serve lots of food – particularly high-protein dishes; be sure to include plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, desserts and coffee; and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving while impaired.
Nationally, 32 percent of all traffic fatalities on the nation’s highways around St. Patrick’s Day in 2003 were alcohol related, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Driving impaired or riding with someone who is impaired is simply not worth the risk,” Colonel Hitchens said. “Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving under the influence can really be significant.”
“Don’t test your luck this St. Patrick’s Day,” he said, “designate your sober driver in advance.”