If you are heading out to a St. Patrick’s Day celebration this year, make sure you have more than just the luck o’ the Irish on your side. This holiday, March 17, is one of the biggest drinking nights of the year and this, unfortunately, means more impaired drivers on the roads.

Drunk driving accounts for nearly one-third of vehicle related fatalities in the United States.

Nationally, in 2018 alone, 73 people (39 percent of all crash fatalities) were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period and 33 percent of the pedestrians aged 16 and older killed in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08.

In 2019 in Iowa, there were two crashes over the holiday which killed four people.

To combat the increased impaired driving around the holiday, local law agencies will be stepping up traffic enforcement from March 14 to March 17. Officers will especially be watching for drunk and drugged drivers and anyone not wearing seat belts.

Drinking and driving should never be combined. It’s essential to plan a sober ride in advance if the holiday celebration will include alcohol. The alternative could change your life, not to mention the lives of your passengers, pedestrians or other drivers and passengers nearby. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day responsibly!

The Story City Police Department, the Iowa Department of Public Safety and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau remind you, driving while impaired is illegal. If you feel different, you drive different!