Skip to Main Navigation
NHTSA 04-13
Friday, March 15, 2013
Contact: Troy Green, 202-366-9550

WASHINGTON – As St. Patrick's Day approaches, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging the public to celebrate responsibly and never drive drunk.

NHTSA analyses show alcohol-impaired crashes claimed a life every 53 minutes in 2011. On St Patrick's Day alone, more than a third of fatalities from motor vehicle crashes – 34 percent – were connected to drunk driving. The national average for alcohol impaired fatalities in 2011 was 31 percent.

Whether plans include attending a local parade or festival, hosting a party or gathering with friends at the local bar or pub, NHTSA urges everyone to designate a sober driver before alcohol is consumed. The agency also offers the following safety tips:

  • Designate your sober driver or have an alternate transportation plan before the party begins.
  • If you don't have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend, or family member to come and get you; or just stay where you are and don't drive until you are sober.
  • Use your community's sober ride program.
  • Never let a friend drive drunk. Arrange a safe way for them to get home.
  • Don't ride in a vehicle with a driver who is intoxicated.
  • Always buckle up. It's still your best defense against drunk drivers.

If you are 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 drunk and get them a cab ride home.
  • Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in a drunk-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.
  • Likewise, parents or other adults who provide alcohol to, or host a party where alcohol is available to, those under age 21 could face jail time.

NOTE: NHTSA statistical data define the St. Patrick's Day holiday as 6 a.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18.

For information on NHTSA's "Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving Campaign" please visit, view the agency's Facebook page, or follow the discussion on Twitter at

Stay connected with NHTSA via: | | |

U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
1-800-424-9153 (TTY)