The message is simple: Keep the streets safe this St. Patrick's Day
by drinking responsibly and designating a sober driver before
heading to the local parade, pub or house party, or risk arrest for
driving under the influence.
According to statistics from the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on St. Patrick's Day
in 2008, 37 percent of the drivers involved in fatal crashes had a
blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or above. Additional NHTSA
statistics show that in 2008, there were 134 crash fatalities on St.
Patrick's Day. Out of that number, 50 people were killed in traffic
crashes that involved at least one driver with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or
"We know everyone wants to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with
family and friends and really enjoy celebrating the Irish," said
Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. "However, we just
want to remind people that your luck will run out if you're caught
drinking and driving."
Over the past five years in Illinois, 20 people lost their lives
in St. Patrick's Day motor vehicle crashes; nine of those fatalities
were alcohol-related, based on at least one driver being tested for
alcohol and having a blood-alcohol content of 0.01 or greater.
"The Illinois State Police and local law enforcement are
committed to keeping impaired drivers off the roads and preventing
alcohol-related tragedies every day," said ISP Director Jonathon E.
Monken. "Individuals who make the decision to drive while impaired
will be arrested. If you are going to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by
drinking, don't take any chances. Designate a driver and make the
celebration safe for everyone."
Through St. Patrick's Day, IDOT is making $852,000 available in
programmed hire-back money to assist in funding over 100 roadside
safety checks. Over 100 law enforcement agencies are participating
in the enforcement mobilization. In addition, the state police are
conducting saturation patrols, late-night safety belt enforcement
zones in every district, impaired-driving countermeasures and
special operations to counter underage drinking. This stepped-up
effort will be accompanied by strong local educational efforts,
encouraging the use of designated drivers, but also reminding
motorists of the risk of arrest if they drive impaired.
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There is no luck involved. Just follow these simple steps so you
can enjoy a safe St. Patrick's Day without jeopardizing your life
and the lives of others on the road.
If you are hosting a party:
Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you
served ends up in an impaired-driving crash.
Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers in
advance, or help arrange ride-sharing with other sober drivers.
Serve lots of food -- and include lots of nonalcoholic beverages
at the party.
Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys
away from anyone who is thinking of driving impaired.
If you are attending a party:
Designate your sober driver BEFORE the party begins and give that
person your car keys.
If you do not have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a
ride home; call a cab, sober friend, family member to pick you up,
or use public transportation if available; or just stay where you
are and sleep it off until you are sober.
Never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about
to drive while impaired.
Always buckle up -- it is still your best defense against an
For more information about impaired driving in Illinois, visit
www.drivesoberillinois.org. In addition, readers can follow IDOT's
Traffic Safety Division at
become a fan of "IL Traffic Safety" on Facebook. The Division of
Traffic Safety's public service announcements can be viewed at
Department of Transportation
file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]