Mar. 15—The Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety is warning motorists that "they'll need more than a four-leaf clover to get out of trouble if they're caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs this St. Patrick's Day."
A GOHS news release reminds Georgians that the state's zero tolerance policy for impaired driving will still apply to anyone driving in an impaired state on Wednesday night.
Law enforcement across the state will be on patrol to prevent accidents and arrest drunk and drugged drivers.
In 2019, 57 people across the U.S. were killed in drunk driving crashes over a 36-hour period surrounding St. Patrick's Day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Per the Georgia Department of Transportation, four people died on the road in Georgia during that period, one of which was alcohol related. Alcohol is a factor in one in four traffic deaths in Georgia.
"With the continued presence of COVID-19, public gatherings still look different, but if you're planning on going out to celebrate with alcohol, that plan also needs to include a designated driver," GOHS Director Allen Poole said. "Celebrating responsibly is a duty we all have. Drunk driving is a selfish choice, not an accident."
GOHS also asked drivers to keep an eye out for intoxicated pedestrians who may lack attention to their surroundings. GOHS recommends the following if you plan to drink on St. Patrick's Day:
—Schedule a ride with a rideshare service or cab company before leaving for your festivities.
—Program cab company numbers into your phone ahead of time. Use them.
—Make sure your phone is fully charged when you go out so you can order a rideshare if needed.
—If you won't be drinking, let friends and family know you can pick them up if needed.
—Offer to drive if someone is too impaired to get behind the wheel and you are sober to drive.
—Reward designated drivers with free non-alcoholic beverages.
"We know drunk driving can be a deadly mistake, but it can also be a costly one," Poole said. "In addition to the priceless cost of a life, a DUI can cost you up to $10,000 in lawyer fees, fines, court costs and lost wages. We would have zero drunk driving deaths in our state and nation if everyone made the smart choice to not get behind the wheel when drinking."