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 NHTSA.gov, view the agency's Facebook page, or follow the discussion on Twitter at Twitter.com/@buzzeddriving.

Stay connected with NHTSA via: Facebook.com/NHTSA | Twitter.com/NHTSAgov | YouTube.com/USDOTNHTSA | SaferCar.gov