State Officials and Sober Driving Partners Offer St. Patrick’s Day Warning

March 16, 2016

Today, TEAM Georgia partnered with the Georgia State Patrol to remind partygoers to not drink and drive this St. Patrick’s Day during a press conference at Meehan’s Public House at Atlantic Station. Representatives from TEAM Georgia, the Georgia State Patrol, Smyrna Police Department, MADD Georgia, as well as a DUI victim speaker were also on hand to remind the motoring public to find a sober driver when out celebrating during the holiday.

Customarily, Georgia State Troopers and local law enforcement agencies step up patrols and conduct roadchecks on major holidays such as this one. Sergeant First Class (SFC) John Cronin, the Commander of the Georgia State Patrol Nighthawks DUI Taskforce, said "Put safety first. Driving impaired is dangerous and not worth the risk of killing or seriously injuring yourself or someone else." "The risk of being in an alcohol related crash increases at night, and especially during major drinking holidays like St. Patrick’s Day," he added.

Tragically, March 17 has become one of the nation’s deadliest holidays. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 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 a lack of attention and coordination puts drunk pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.

"Keeping our community safe is truly a team effort, and our safe holiday campaign brings together a caring and determined family of Atlanta’s businesses and the community to look out for each other during this holiday season," said Ron Fennel, chairman of TEAM Georgia."

"Recent statistics indicate that alcohol-related crash fatalities in Georgia increased last year", said TEAM Georgia Chairman Ron Fennel. "This statistic is clearly moving in the wrong direction. As we approach this holiday season, we must all double our efforts and make sure all holiday well-wishers have a safe and sober ride home."

TEAM Georgia has worked to save lives and reduce injuries on Georgia’s roads and waterways since 1985, and this year is no different. The organization is committed to its mission of encouraging safe and sober driving choices as a means of reducing transportation crashes, injuries and fatalities.

"Our Safe Holiday campaign brings together members of the hospitality industry, restaurants and bars to stand behind a unified message, encouraging safe and responsible holiday celebrations," Fennel said. "That’s why we’re here at Meehan’s Atlantic Station today to tell holiday revelers to have fun, but be responsible and get home safely."

Careful planning can prevent alcohol-related crashes. For motorists in Georgia, there are several easy ways to avoid driving drunk on St. Patrick’s Day:

• Designate a sober driver before the party begins.

• Leave your keys at home to make sure you have no choice but to call a friend or hire a taxi or ride share service.

• Party hosts should serve lots of food and have non-alcoholic beverage options.

• If you can’t afford a taxi or ride share service, plan to take public transportation and make sure you know how late it’s available in your area.

The Georgia State Patrol Nighthawks DUI Taskforce is made up of highly trained DUI law enforcement officers who patrol Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties during peak DUI-related hours.

TEAM Georgia is a safe and sober driving coalition of concerned businesses, public safety officials and members of Atlanta's sporting teams. For more information, contact TEAM Georgia at 770-490-1243 or visit www.teamgeorgia.net.