RALEIGH -The N.C. Department of Transportation and the Governor's Highway Safety Program remind drivers that their luck will run out if they decide to drive after drinking too much green beer and Irish whiskey this St. Patrick's Day. Starting Friday, law enforcement officers statewide will step up patrols and stage checkpoints as part of the "Booze It & Lose It" campaign to catch unlucky drivers who break the law.
"St. Patrick's Day is a day known for drinking alcohol," said Don Nail, director of the N.C. Governor's Highway Safety Program. "We encourage anyone traveling on our state's roads to be smart and plan ahead if they are going to drink. Calling a taxi, taking public transit or having a designated driver will help ensure they celebrate safely."
During last year's St. Patrick's Day "Booze It & Lose It" campaign, law enforcement officers made nearly 700 DWI arrests. The drivers involved could have avoided accidents or fines if they had not gotten behind the wheel after drinking.
GHSP offers these safety tips for those celebrating St. Patrick's Day at a pub or party to avoid getting a DWI:
Before the festivities begin, plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night;
Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home;
If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local police in a safe way. You could save a life; and
And, remember, if you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they need to go safely.
On North Carolina roads last year, there were 338 alcohol-related deaths. At the national level, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2011, on average, one person was killed every 53 minutes in a drunk-driving crash. Most of those crashes involved drunk drivers who had blood-alcohol concentrations of 0.15 or higher, almost twice the legal limit of 0.08.
The St. Patrick's Day "Booze It & Lose It" campaign will run throughout the weekend and end on Monday, March 17.