ATLANTA, Ga. (WALB) - The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) is warning Georgia motorists they’ll need more than a four-leaf clover to get out of trouble if they’re caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs this St. Patrick’s Day.
GOHS is joining law enforcement and highway safety advocates statewide in reminding everyone that Georgia’s zero-tolerance policy for impaired driving remains in effect for the popular drinking holiday. That means drunk and drugged drivers will not get a second chance just because they’re wearing green or a four-leaf clover, the agency said.
With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Wednesday, GOHS officials said law enforcement will be on patrol throughout the week with the goal to prevent deadly crashes by getting drunk and drugged drivers off the road and in a jail cell.
”With the continued presence of COVID-19, public gatherings still look different, but if you’re planning on going out to celebrate with alcohol, that plan also needs to include a designated driver,” Allen Poole, GOHS director, said. “Celebrating responsibly is a duty we all have. Drunk driving is a selfish choice, not an accident.”
In 2019 alone, 57 people were killed nationwide in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period from 6 p.m. on March 16 to 6 a.m. on March 18. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, there were four traffic fatalities in Georgia during that time period and one was alcohol-related.
There were an additional 18 traffic fatalities and a total of 3,444 traffic crashes for the full 72-hour period of March 16-18. Annually in Georgia, alcohol is a factor in one out of four traffic deaths.
“We know drunk driving can be a deadly mistake, but it can also be a costly one,” Poole said. “In addition to the priceless cost of a life, a DUI can cost you up to $10,000 in lawyer fees, fines, court costs, and lost wages. We would have zero drunk driving deaths in our state and nation if everyone made the smart choice to not get behind the wheel when drinking.
St. Patrick’s Day drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention to surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety offered the following safety tips and reminders for having a safe holiday if you plan to drink:
- Schedule a ride with a rideshare service or cab company before leaving for your festivities.
- Program cab company numbers into your phone ahead of time. Use them.
- Make sure your phone is fully charged when you go out so you can order a rideshare if needed.
- If you won’t be drinking, let friends and family know you can pick them up if needed.
- Offer to drive if someone is too impaired to get behind the wheel and you are sober to drive.
- Reward designated drivers with free non-alcoholic beverages.
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