Increased DUI enforcement planned for St. Patrick’s Day in Georgia

Governor's Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood promises zero tolerance for impaired drivers on St. Patrick's Day. (Albany Herald file photo)

The luck of the Irish will not save motorists who drink and then get behind the wheel during the St. Patrick’s Day celebratory weekend, according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS).

According to the GOHS, St. Patrick’s Day is an extremely dangerous holiday because of the number of drunk drivers on the road and increased law enforcement will be out to keep motorists safe.

Reports indicate that from 6 p.m. on March 16 to 6 a.m. on March 18 in the years 2010-14, 266 traffic deaths were recorded because of drunk drivers. In 2014, 28 percent of crash fatalities during the St. Patrick’s Day period were alcohol related. That same year, between midnight and 6 a.m., nearly half of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers.

“Many adults celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with alcohol, and we know many are planning to extend their celebration through the weekend because the holiday falls on a Friday this year,” GOHS Director Harris Blackwood said. “We just want everyone to celebrate responsibly and that includes not getting behind the wheel if they have been drinking alcohol.”

The GOHS is partnering with TEAM Georgia, a sober driving coalition, in warning revelers about impaired driving.

“If you are over the limit, you’ll be under arrest,” said Blackwood. “No warnings. No excuses.”

TEAM Georgia is making sure that it’s not just law enforcement looking out for irresponsible party goers.

“This campaign brings together members of the hospitality industry, restaurants and bars to stand behind a unified message of encouraging safe and responsible holiday celebrations,” Ron Fennel, TEAM Georgia chairman, said. “We’re telling everyone who participates in St. Patrick’s Day to have fun, but be responsible and get home safely.”

The GOHS is encouraging motorists to utilize the “Drive Sober, Georgia” smartphone app, which offers a database of safe ride options all over the state and to take steps to ensure a safe conclusion to the festivities.

According to officials, Georgians should plan a safe way home before the party begins. That can be designating a sober driver, using a taxi, calling a sober friend or using public transportation if a motorist is too impaired to drive. Also, Georgians are being asked to report drunk driving to local law enforcement and to be prepared to intervene by taking someone’s keys and finding them a safe ride home.

For more information on GOHS or enforcement efforts during St. Patrick’s Day call (404) 656-6996 or visit www.gahighwaysafety.org.

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