Monday March 16, 2009

Avoid the 9 is urging the public to help keep the streets safe this St. Patrick’s Day by drinking responsibly and designating a sober driver before heading to the a local celebration or pub.  Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that over the past five years, 851 people lost their lives in motor vehicles crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.  Out of that number, 327 were killed in crashes that involved a drunk driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

The Avoid the 9 will be sending special DUI saturation patrols out Tuesday night to stop and arrest those who drink and drive.  The number one killer on our highways is the impaired driver.  In 2007 alcohol attributed to 1,489 deaths in California with 30,641 injured, many still suffering with life long disabilities.


“St. Patrick’s Day is supposed to be a time to celebrate Irish heritage and gather with friends, but it can quickly end in tragedy due to impaired driving,” said Napa Police Chief Rich Melton.  “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.”

Police Chief Melton recommends the following tips:

  • Plan a safe way home before your celebrations begin
  • If you plan to get a ride 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 are sure to get home safely
  • If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate – Call 9-1-1
  • If you know someone who is about to drive their car or ride their motorcycle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely

“Driving impaired or riding with someone who is impaired is an extremely risky and dangerous thing to do,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “If you plan on using alcohol, plan ahead with a sober driver.  And remember, friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”

According to 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 people were killed in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.