Highway safety officials distributing coasters with code for sob - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Highway safety officials distributing coasters with code for sober ride app

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Georgia's largest St. Patrick's Day destination will feature some extra shamrock-clad decorations this year as the Governor's Office of Highway Safety targets the busy drinking holiday in Savannah with 15,000 drink coasters designed to deter DUI and encourage finding a sober driver.

Created by GOHS and distributed by Southern Eagle Distributing, the coasters will be placed throughout the historic city's bar district. They not only feature sobering DUI facts, but a QR code that can be scanned by smartphone users to download the Drive Sober, Georgia app, which features a list of free and paid sober ride services available in Savannah and cities statewide. 

The app is available on both the Apple and Android markets.

"Savannah is one of the top St. Patrick's Day destinations in the entire country, and that means not only will there be an increase in visitors to the city, but an increase in alcohol consumption and the potential for drunk driving," GOHS Director Harris Blackwood said. "We want to make sure visitors and residents alike get home safely, so we're distributing these coasters to make sure everyone has access to a sober ride."

Georgia has a long-standing zero-tolerance policy toward drunk driving. The legal blood alcohol limit in all 50 states is .08, and in Georgia, if you don't drive sober, you will get pulled over. 

Last year, there were an estimated 276 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Georgia. Across the country, St. Patrick's Day has proven to be a deadly holiday. 

During the 2013 holiday weekend, 40 percent of all crash deaths involved drunk drivers. The late night hours between March 17 and March 18 were even worse with 50 percent of crashes involving alcohol.

"DUI is an entirely preventable problem, and there's no excuse for it," Blackwood said. "Designate a sober driver before you go out, program taxi numbers into your phone ahead of time or download our app. The consequences are far too great to ignore."

The ultimate consequence of DUI is loss of life, but one single drunk driving offense can create any number of financial burdens ranging from court costs and legal fees to jail time and lost wages. History shows that on St. Patrick's Day, DUI does not take a holiday. 

From 2009 to 2013, nearly 75 percent of the drunk driving fatalities on St. Patrick's Day involved drivers who were twice the legal limit. In 2013 alone, 31 people were killed in alcohol-impaired crashes on March 17 nationwide.

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