Sheriff warns drivers to stay sober

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching on March 17, the Buena Vista County Sheriff’s Office is reminding drivers not to get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more that 269 people have been senselessly killed nationwide in crashes involving drunk drivers during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday from 2007-2011. Those fatalities are preventable.

When you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day just be smart about it. If you know you’re going to be drinking, designate a sober driver, ahead of time, or call a taxi to make sure you get home safely. There’s never an excuse for driving after drinking. According to NHTSA in 2011, on average one person was killed every 53 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in the United States.

Most of these crashes involved drunk drivers who had blood alcohol concentrations of .15 or higher, almost twice the legal limit of .08.

The Buena Vista County Sheriff’s Office recommends the following steps to have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day:

         • Before the festivities begin plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night.

         • Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.

         • If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation to get home safely.

         • If available, use your community’s sober ride program.

         • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local police. You could save someone’s life.

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