Everyone may be “Irish” on St. Patrick’s Day, but no one should drive drunk after celebrating Ireland’s patron saint this Saturday, March 17.

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated saint’s day in the world, but all too often it shares that great distinction with a far lesser one-too many people are driving drunk and killing or maiming themselves and others on the road as a result.  

Even if you think you’ve only had a few drinks and are just feeling “buzzed,” don’t kid yourself because “buzzed driving is drunk driving.”

According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37 percent of the motor vehicle traffic fatalities during St. Patrick’s Day 2009 involved at least one driver or motorcyclist with a blood alcohol content of .08 grams per deciliter or above, the legal level of intoxication established in every state.

During St. Patrick’s Day 2009, there were 103 crash fatalities. Of that number, 39 people were killed in traffic crashes involving at least one driver or motorcyclist with a blood alcohol level of .08 g/dL or higher.

Whether you are meeting a few friends after work or attending a party or parade, if alcohol is part of the festivities, make sure you designate a sober driver to get you home safely.  

Alcohol not only dangerously impairs your driving skills; it also impairs your judgment.

Plan ahead to have a safe celebration:

• Decide how you will get home BEFORE you attend a celebration and designate a sober driver.

• If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, do not hesitate to contact the local law enforcement.

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

On this saint’s special day, let’s all be sure to stay safe and keep others safe.

Rita Hodges is the Ellis County Extension Agent-Family & Consumer Sciences.