NEW CITY, NY, – St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s favorite holidays to celebrate and attend parties. Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, along with highway and local law enforcement officials, the Rockland County STOP-DWI Program, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), remind us that St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest holidays on our nation’s roads because unfortunately, too many people choose to drink alcohol and drive.
Driving while impaired by any substance, including alcohol, some over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and illegal drugs, put you and others in harm’s way. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) fatal-crash data, during the 2020 St. Patrick’s Day period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), more than a third of crash fatalities involved a drunk driver. During this period, 37 lives were lost due to drunk-driving crashes. NTHTSA’s 2020 study also found that between mid-March and mid-July, almost two-thirds of drivers tested positive for at least one active drug, including alcohol, marijuana, or opioids.
“With this holiday falling on a Friday this year, we can expect a dangerous weekend for drivers and passengers alike,” said County Executive Ed Day. “If you plan to drink don’t put lives at risk; have a designated driver or safe ride home.”
In all states, including New York, drivers are considered alcohol-impaired if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and can be deadly. Even small amounts of alcohol or drugs can impair judgement, making driving unsafe. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly. In 2020, 30% of the pedestrians killed in traffic crashes had blood alcohol concentrations at or above .08.
“If you are celebrating with alcohol or other substances that impair your judgement, designate a sober driver before you start. We want to encourage everyone to turn over their keys to someone who is not impaired and never get in a car with someone who has been drinking or using drugs. Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is not worth the risk and doing so can cause injury or death to the driver, passengers, and others on the road,” said Dr. Ruppert.
- If you plan on drinking alcohol or using drugs, plan your safe, sober ride home before you get to the party.
- If you have been drinking alcohol and/or using drugs, do not drive for any reason. Call a taxi, use a rideshare service, phone a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation. Download the STOP-DWI mobile app – “Have a Plan,” and you will always be able to find a safe ride home or NHTSA’s SaferRide app from Google Play or the iTunes Store, which helps you identify your location.
- If someone you know has been drinking alcohol or using drugs, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys and help them arrange a sober ride home. If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, ensure all guests leave with a sober driver.
- If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone’s life.
“St. Patrick’s Day is a popular drinking holiday. If you drink alcohol or use drugs, don’t drive. Remember, play it safe, and always plan your sober ride before the festivities begin. If you are buzzed, do not drive. Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.” said Dr. Albert Del Principio, Rockland County STOP-DWI & Traffic Safety Coordinator.