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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2011

IDOT Partners With State and Local Law Enforcement to Boost Safety for St. Patrick’s Day
Efforts Include Saturation Patrols, Roadside Safety Checks and Enforcement Zones

SPRINGFIELD - St. Patrick’s Day festivities typically mean many Illinoisans will be celebrating with family and friends, but too often, celebrations can turn deadly because of impaired drivers.  That is why the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois State Police (ISP) are partnering with more than 150 law enforcement agencies this St. Patrick’s Day holiday to remind everyone to act responsibly, buckle up and designate a sober driver before the parties begin.

“We hope the St. Patrick’s Day holiday continues to be the popular and joyous celebration it has become, without being spoiled by impaired drivers,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig.  “For those thinking about drinking and driving, the message is clear. Don’t do it.  Designate a sober driver before the party begins or risk arrest, a DUI charge or even worse. Nothing good can come from drinking and driving.”

According to data from the Illinois Department of Transportation, during the past five years in Illinois, 15 people died in motor vehicle crashes on St. Patrick’s Day.  Seven of those fatalities involved a driver who had been drinking alcohol.  During the same timeframe, a total of 1,261 people were injured in St. Patrick’s Day crashes.  Last year on St. Patrick’s Day in Illinois, one person died in a crash but it did not involve a drinking driver.  (Fatalities occurring on March 17 from midnight through 11:59p.m.)

"The Illinois State Police and local law enforcement will increase patrols during the St. Patrick's Day celebrations in an effort to prevent alcohol-related tragedies," said Interim ISP Director Patrick Keen. "Individuals who drive impaired will be arrested.  If alcohol will be part of your celebration, designate a sober driver. As always, motorists are also reminded to buckle-up to ensure safe travel."

Beginning March 11 and continuing through the weekend following March 17, an estimated $800,000 in federal highway safety dollars to Illinois will fund roadside safety checks, saturation patrols and other impaired driving countermeasures along with nighttime safety belt and other patrols.  The safety belt patrols are utilized to further improve the late-night safety belt usage rate.  In addition, 157 local law enforcement agencies are participating in a combined total of more than 500 roadside safety checks, safety belt enforcement zones and other enforcement details during the entire St. Patrick’s Day period.

There is no luck involved.  Just follow these simple steps so you can enjoy a safe St. Patrick’s Day without jeopardizing your life and the lives of others on the road.

If you are hosting a party:
• Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you serve is involved in an impaired driving crash;
• Make sure all of your guests designate a sober driver in advance or help arrange ride-sharing with other sober drivers;
• Serve lots of food and include lots of non-alcoholic beverages at the party;
• Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving impaired.

If you are attending a party:
• Designate a sober driver BEFORE the party begins and give that person your car keys;
• If you do not have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home, call a cab, sober friend or family member to pick you up or use public transportation if available; another option would be to stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober;
• Never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive while impaired;
• Always buckle up – it is still your best defense against an impaired driver.

St. Patrick’s Day in Illinois

Fatal Crashes
Injury Crashes
Total Crashes
Fatalities
Injuries
Alcohol-Involved Fatalities**
2006
3
237
1,173
3
330
1
2007
5
148
900
6
221
5
2008
3
140
958
3
195
1
2009
2
196
752
2
272
0
2010
1
176
734
1
243
0

*Fatalities occurred on March 17 from midnight through 11:59 p.m. Fatalities that resulted from a crash in which at least one driver, either surviving or deceased, had a BAC of 0.01 or greater.

 



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