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St. Patrick’s Day advice: Don’t drink and drive

Shamrocks, pots of gold, leprechauns and good luck are all things that come to mind during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. But no amount of luck can save you from a drunk-driving crash.

Unfortunately, St. Patrick’s Day has become a deadly day in the United States, with a dramatic spike in drunk-driving fatalities.

Due to the increase in drunk-driving-related fatalities around March 17 each year, the N.C. Department of Transportation and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, along with state and local law enforcement agencies across North Carolina, kicked off the statewide St. Patrick’s “Booze It & Lose It” campaign to actively seek out and arrest impaired drivers with an event in Charlotte on Wednesday. The statewide campaign continues through March 20.

During the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day weekend in North Carolina, 11 people were killed in crashes. Four of the fatal crashes involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

“Before you take a sip of that green beer we want you to have a plan to get home safely,” said Don Nail, director of the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.  If you have just one drink, call a taxi, take public transit, app a ride, or have a designated sober driver to help you get home safely.”

The N.C. Department of Transportation and Governor’s Highway Safety Program recommend following these simple tips for a safe St. Patrick’s weekend if you plan to be on the roads:

  • Before you head out to a parade, party or local pub, plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night by either designating a completely sober driver, downloading a ride app, checking on public transportation availability or programming a taxi number into your mobile phone.
  • Walking impaired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Designate a sober friend to get you home.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement immediately.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive or ride impaired, take their keys and help them make safe travel arrangements to their destination.

To help share the “Booze It & Lose It” message, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program in conjunction with the Department of Transportation is using its marketing campaign, “Don’t Drink and Drive.  You’re Smarter Than That” for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

The campaign focuses on building awareness of the variety of options a person has readily available to them to get them home safely after drinking. It’s never been easier to find a sober way home — including calling a friend, using a taxi, taking public transportation, ride-sharing, or designating a driver.

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