Park County Sheriff: Celebrate St. Patrick's Day Safely Don't Drink and Drive

(Cody, Wyo) Although March 17th is the date of the official St. Patrick’s Day holiday, many around the community will be celebrating the holiday this weekend. As one of the country’s most popular holidays, St. Patrick’s Day has long celebrated the roots of 34.2 million Americans with Irish ancestry. Tragically, March 17 has also become one of the nation’s deadliest holidays. In 2014 alone, there were 18 people killed in drunk-driving crashes on St. Paddy’s Day across the country. This year, if you’ll be drinking alcohol, Park County law enforcement officers have some advice for you: Don’t drink and drive. Law enforcement will be patrolling the county day and night in an effort to crack down on drunk drivers and keep the roads safe for everyone. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period, more than a quarter of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. The early hours of March 18 were even worse: between midnight and 6:00 a.m., nearly half of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. Moreover, from 2010 to 2014, almost three-fourths of the drunk-driving fatalities during this holiday period involved drivers who had BACs well above the .08 legal limit, with 266 drunk-driving fatalities total. In addition, keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink; walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention and coordination puts drunk pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle. The good news is that the number of fatalities over this holiday period decreased from 2013. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2013, 32 lives were lost to drunk driving. Almost a quarter of all traffic fatalities were drunk-driving-related in 2014, which was a decrease from 2013 when over a third of all crash fatalities involved drunk driving. “We are encouraged by the downward trend in drunk-driving fatalities,” said Sheriff Scott Steward. “However, we still want to encourage everyone to make a plan before heading out to the festivities. Drinking and driving is dangerous and illegal. If you are caught driving drunk, you will be arrested.” “Not only is drinking and driving a crime that could land you with a hefty court bill and jail time, but you put yourself and others at risk; and the consequences are often fatal,” continued Steward. “As part of your plan, before you head out to celebrate designate a sober, reliable driver to get you home safely or find the name of a taxi company and keep their number in your phone. And if you see a drunk driver on the road, do not hesitate to contact the Park County Communications Center at 307-527-8700 or by dialing 911. You could save a life.”