As those who want to celebrate the spirit of the Irish this St. Patrick's Day hit the streets, local law enforcement officers will be cracking down on impaired drivers to make sure it is a safe holiday for everyone.
According to data provided by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Midwest Regional Administrator Michael Witter, 44 percent of the 105 drivers and motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes during the 2007 St. Patrick's Day holiday had a blood alcohol content of .08 or above.
A person can expect heavy consequences if arrested and convicted of driving while impaired.
"Our message is simple. If you drive drunk, you will be arrested," Witter said in a press release from his office. "There will be no warnings for impaired drivers and violators can expect to be arrested."
Refusal of a blood alcohol or filed sobriety test could cost violators to lose their license and have their vehicle impounded.
Other than the potential humiliation of arrest and lost time from work, Witter said offenders could lose their licenses, more missed time in court proceedings, loss of money for court costs and fines and there is other personal and financial costs involved if sentenced to prison time.
The Clay County Sheriff's Department will also be on heightened patrols during the March 7-23 as part of Operation Pull Over.
Sgt. Jason Frazier told The Brazil Times that law enforcement doesn't want to stop people from having a good time, but they want to help make sure everyone has a safe holiday.
"Whether meeting a few friends after work or attending a private party, if you plan on using alcohol never drive while impaired. Driving impaired or riding with someone who is impaired is simply not worth the risk," Frazier said. "And never let your friends drive if you think they are impaired. Friends don't let friends drive drunk."
Some tips for a safe holiday from the NHTSA include,
* Whenever consuming alcohol, plan ahead by designating a sober driver before going out,
* If a person becomes impaired, call a taxi service, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member for a ride home,
* Wear seatbelts and use protective gear if riding a motorcycle while traveling,
* Promptly report drunk/impaired drivers to law enforcement, and
* Don't let someone who is impaired drive a vehicle while impaired. Take their keys and help them make arrangement to get home safely.
For more information, log onto the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at www.StopImpairedDriving.org.