March 12, 2012 10:21 ET

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day Safely -- Designate a Driver

'Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving'

KANSAS CITY, MO--(Marketwire - Mar 12, 2012) - For many Americans, *St. Patrick's Day has become a popular night out to celebrate with friends and family. Unfortunately, due to the large number of drunk drivers, the night out has also become very dangerous.

According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37 percent of the motor vehicle traffic fatalities during St. Patrick's Day 2009 involved at least one driver or motorcyclist with a blood alcohol content of .08 grams per deciliter or above, the legal level of intoxication established in every state in the Union.

During St. Patrick's Day 2009, there were 103 crash fatalities. Of that number, 39 people were killed in traffic crashes involving at least one driver or motorcyclist with a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher.

"Whether you are meeting a few friends at a bar after work or attending a parade, if your celebration includes alcohol, designate a sober driver before the party begins. Even if you've only had a few drinks and are just feeling 'buzzed,' don't kid yourself because Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving," said Romell Cooks, Regional Administrator, NHTSA, Region 7.

Ms. Cooks offers these reminders to avoid heartache this St. Patrick's Day.

  • Plan a safe way home before the activities begin: Designate a sober driver, plan to use a taxi, public transportation or leave your car keys at home;
  • If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don't hesitate to contact your local law enforcement;
  • And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

For more information, visit

* St. Patrick's Day is defined as the period from 6 p.m. on March 16 to 5:59 a.m. on March 18.

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    Ginny Vineyard