Georgia officers urge revelers to find sober ride on St. Patrick’s Day

Published 7:51 am Friday, March 2, 2012

Special to The Post-Searchlight

Drunk driving doesn’t take a holiday in Georgia so if you’re impaired and behind the wheel on St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll need more than the luck of the Irish to stay out of jail, according to a press release from the Georgia Department of Highway Safety (GOHS).

The day in America when we celebrate all things Irish, whether our ancestors came from the Emerald Isle or not, has become one of the most notorious drinking holidays in the country. And in Georgia, revelers have unfortunately followed that tradition.

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“St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated saint’s days in the world, but all too often, it shares that distinction with a far less impressive one. Too many people are driving drunk and killing themselves or others on the road as a result,” said Harris Blackwood, Director of the GOHS. “Impaired driving is an entirely preventable crime, so it’s sad that this trend continues every year.”

In 2009, there were 103 crash deaths on St. Patrick’s Day, which is categorized as from 6 p.m. on March 16 to 5:59 a.m. on March 18. Of those crashes, more than a third involved alcohol-impaired drivers. Thirty-nine people were killed because drunk drivers decided the law didn’t apply to them.

“We want people to celebrate, but whether you’re heading to your local Irish pub or to a big parade, you need to make sure you have a sober driver,” Blackwood said. “Drunk driving not only kills innocent lives, but the financial repercussions will have you wishing you found that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

The consequences of drunk driving are real. Drunk drivers in Georgia will automatically go to jail — no excuses and no warnings. Other consequences can include loss of a driver’s license, higher insurance rates and dozens of other unanticipated expenses, ranging from attorney fees and court costs to car repairs and lost wages due to time off from work.

And drivers in Georgia really have no excuse for driving drunk, because they have the Drive Sober Georgia smartphone application at their fingertips. Available on both the Android and iPhone markets, this app provides a listing of free sober ride programs across the state so no matter where you are, you can see if such a program exists in your area. It can be downloaded directly from your phone’s marketplace or by visiting

Downloading the Drive Sober Georgia app is one way you can prepare yourself for getting home safe on St. Patrick’s Day. Here are a few more tips:

• Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin and designate a sober driver.

• 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 know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

• As a sober driver, if you see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your local law enforcement.

So remember that even if you’re just “buzzed,” don’t drive. Because in Georgia, if you don’t Drive Sober, you will Get Pulled Over. For more information on how to keep St. Patrick’s Day a safe and sober holiday, as well as the consequences of a DUI, visit