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Designate a Sober Driver Before You Celebrate St. Patrick's Day
03/17/2009
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247
Pager: (503) 323-3195
 
Ms. Shelley Snow
ODOT Public Affairs
Office: (503) 986-3438

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On a day widely observed by Americans of all ethnic backgrounds, don't let your bad luck while celebrating St. Patrick's Day turn deadly due to impaired driving. Oregon law enforcement agencies and highway safety advocates urge everyone planning to celebrate today to drink responsibly and designate a sober driver before heading out.
 
Over the past five years in Oregon and on the national level, almost 38 percent of all traffic crashes resulting in a fatality on St. Patrick's Day involved a drunk driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
 
"If you plan on drinking, don't rely on luck to keep you safe or to keep you out of trouble. Be responsible and take appropriate precautions," said Oregon State Police (OSP) Superintendent Timothy McLain.
 
The weekend before St. Patrick's Day, a multi-agency DUII enforcement effort was held Saturday night, March 14th, involving numerous state, county and city police agencies in Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington, and Hood River counties. According to Sergeant John Naccarato, Traffic Supervisor with Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, participating agencies reported 31 DUII arrests. Tigard police reported the highest DUII BAC of .31 percent.
 
Just like state troopers, county deputies and city police officers who will be keeping a keen eye out for impaired drivers this evening, all travelers are asked to pay close attention for other drivers who may be out driving after celebrating irresponsibly. If you happen to see a possible impaired driver on the road, don't hesitate to contact your local law enforcement or OSP dispatch at 800-24DRUNK (800-243-7865).
 
OSP and Oregon Department of Transportation recommend the following tips for a safe and responsible St. Patrick's Day:
  • Plan a safe way home before your celebrations begin;
  • If you plan to get home with someone else, designate a sober driver before any drinking begins;
  • If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you get home safely;
  • And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride their motorcycle while impaired, take their keys and help them make arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
 
"Driving impaired or riding with someone who is impaired is an extremely risky thing to do," said McLain. "If you plan on using alcohol, plan ahead and look out for your friends too. Remember, friends don't let friends drive drunk."
 
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)research, impaired driving remains one of America's deadliest problems. In 2007, 41,059 people nationwide were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Out of that number 12,998 were killed in traffic crashes that involved a driver of motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08 or higher. To learn more, please visit www.StopImpairedDriving.org.