Designate a sober driver before the party begins, or risk arrest As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, numerous Illinoisans are planning to celebrate the holiday with family and friends. However, those celebrations too often turn deadly, because of the irresponsible acts of impaired drivers. That is why the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois State Police (ISP) are partnering with law enforcement agencies around the state in the days ahead. IDOT and ISP remind you to act responsibly by designating a sober driver, if you plan on consuming alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day.
Last year in America on St. Patrick’s Day, nearly half (44 percent) of the 105 drivers and motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or above. In Illinois last year, six people lost their lives on St. Patrick’s Day. Five of those deaths involved a driver who had been drinking (at least one driver involved had a BAC of 0.01 or higher).
“There is no excuse for driving while impaired. It is irresponsible and it’s deadly,” said IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees. “If you are planning on celebrating with alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day, designate a sober driver before you go out, or risk taking a ride to jail.”
Impaired drivers are ever-present on Illinois roads, risking their lives and the lives of other motorists. That risk can increase during holiday weekends like St. Patrick’s Day, due to an even greater threat of impaired drivers.
Beginning today and continuing through St. Patrick’s Day, IDOT is making available more than $300,000 in federal highway safety dollars to fund additional roadside safety checks, saturation patrols and other impaired driving countermeasures. This stepped-up effort will be accompanied by an equally strong education effort on the local level – encouraging the use of designated drivers and reminding motorists of the ramifications of choosing to drive impaired.
"The Illinois State Police and local law enforcement will increase patrols over the St. Patrick's Day weekend in an effort to prevent alcohol-related tragedies," said ISP Director Larry G. Trent. "Individuals who make the unfortunate decision to drive while impaired will be arrested. If you are going to celebrate by drinking, designate a sober driver. Motorists are also reminded to buckle-up and to obey Scott's Law (the move-over law) to ensure a safe holiday weekend."
There is no luck involved. Just follow these simple steps, so you can enjoy a safe St. Patrick’s Day holiday without jeopardizing your life and the lives of the others on the roads. 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 plenty of food and be sure to include non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
- Keep phone 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 or family member to pick you up, or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.
- Never let a friend leave your sight if you think he or she is about to drive while impaired. Always buckle up – it’s still your best defense against an impaired driver.
In Illinois in 2006, NHTSA estimates show there were 594 alcohol-involved fatalities (at least one driver involved had a BAC of 0.01 or higher) in Illinois. That represents 47 percent of the 1,254 total motor vehicle fatalities.
Luck won’t get you home safely this St. Patrick’s Day. Designate your sober driver before the party begins. For more information about the IDOT Division of Traffic Safety’s impaired driving and safety campaigns, go to: http://www.dot.state.il.us/safety.html.