|TRENTON – St. Patrick's Day is March 17, and three state agencies are reminding drivers not to get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking. The Divisions of Highway Traffic Safety, Alcoholic Beverage Control and State Police are urging those who will be enjoying the holiday with an alcoholic beverage to have a plan to get home safely after the festivities.
“When you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, just be smart about it,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky. “If you know you’re going to drink—whether with friends at a pub or attending a parade —designate a sober driver ahead of time or call a taxi to make sure you get home safely,” Poedubicky said. “There’s never an excuse for driving after drinking.”
Poedubicky said that one in five motor vehicle fatalities in New Jersey involve a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher and in 2012 those drunk drivers were involved in crashes that killed 117 in the State. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 269 people have been senselessly killed nationwide in crashes involving drunk drivers during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday from 2007 to 2011. Those fatalities were preventable.
Many St. Patrick’s Day holiday parties will be held at bars and restaurants throughout the state and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control will have undercover investigators at many of them to ensure these establishments aren’t over serving their patrons.
“St. Patrick’s Day is a great day for our many licensed establishments in New Jersey, as many people take their celebrations to their favorite place for a drink,” Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael Halfacre said. “We want to make sure this holiday is remembered as a happy one and to do that our licensees need to remember that it is their legal responsibility to ensure that no customer is served alcohol if they are actually or visibly intoxicated. Sadly, drunk driving tragedies can sometimes begin in a bar.”
The Division of State Police also said they would be on the lookout for drunk or impaired drivers during the holiday.
“Too often celebrations involving alcohol can turn tragic for both motorists and pedestrians alike. Be aware of your surroundings, designate a sober driver, or use public transportation,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “A little planning in advance can help to ensure a safe holiday.”
Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky offered the public some vital tips on how to enjoy the holiday responsibly:
Designate a sober driver before the party begins and give that person your car keys.
Consider using a taxi cab or car service, or ask a sober family member or friend to come and get you, or spend the night where you are.
Report impaired drivers in New Jersey by dialing #77. You’ll be asked to provide the location and a brief description of the vehicle.
- If you’re intoxicated and traveling on foot, the safest way to get home is to take a cab or have a sober friend or family member drive or escort you to your doorstep.