Will you be traveling on the road today?
Do you know anyone that is going to drink?
Have you made your plans on how to get home safely?
A Dangerous “Holiday”
St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, started as a cultural and religious holiday recognizing the death of Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. It is a day to recognize Christianity’s arrival in Ireland. However, over time, it has evolved into a different type of religion—the “high holy day” to drink, March 17th. For many, this international holiday has become a day of celebration and drinking of alcohol. Wear a little green, and you’re Irish for the day or don’t wear green–either way gets you into the pub to drink green beer. The reasons to drink are legendary, but this also means that impaired driving has made the day extremely dangerous.
During this time of celebration, it is time to be smart. If you know you’re going to drink—whether with friends at a pub or attending a party, designate a sober, non-drinking driver ahead of time or call a taxi to make sure you get home safely.
Tips for a Safe and Happy St. Patrick’s Day
Consider the following steps for a happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day:
- Before the festivities, 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’re impaired, use a taxi, or public transportation to get home safely.
- If available, use your community’s sober ride program.
- Never let a friend drive drunk. Arrange a safe way for them to get home.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local police. You could save a life. And remember, if you know people who are about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
If you’re hosting a party:
- Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers in advance, or help arrange alternate transportation.
- Serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
- Stop serving alcohol a few hours before the end of the party, and begin serving coffee and dessert.
- Keep the phone number of local cab companies on hand, and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving impaired, and get them a cab ride home. Better yet, take the keys when people arrive and only hand them back at the end party to those who are sober.
- Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in an impaired-driving crash.
- If an underage person drinks and drives, parents may be held liable for any damage, injury or death caused by the underage driver.
Free Cab Rides Possible
One option that more communities are developing is free cab rides home. Called SoberRide in the Washington, DC area, the program is typically funded through sponsors and donations, and works with local cab companies to provide impaired adults (over the age of 21) cab rides home. In many locations the ride is free. WRAP (Washington Regional Alcohol Program) organizes the DC SoberRide program and since 1993, WRAP has provided over 58,000 safe rides home. That means 58,000 impaired individuals didn’t drive and they arrived home safely. It means lives saved and injuries prevented. Similar programs can be found across the U.S. To see a list of programs, click here.
Make Your Plan
Whatever plan you make – it is the making of the plan and then following through with it that is critical. It is making the plan and doing it that could mean not getting arrested and spending some time in jail, or even something worse. With the availability of cabs, buses, subways, friends, family, hotels, motels, there’s never an excuse for driving after drinking. St. Patrick’s Day is not a day to count on the luck of the Irish to get home safely; it is a day to trust your plan.
What plan did you make for St. Patrick’s Day?