More than 400 drivers were arrested in Colorado statewide over the St. Patrick's Day weekend, suspected of drinking and driving. The highest number of arrests took place in Denver, according to a joint statement from the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol.
"The Heat Is On" enforcement campaign over the March 17 weekend netted 48 arrests in Denver, 36 in Colorado Springs and 29 in Aurora, according to the statement.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warned drivers not to get behind the wheel if they had been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by drinking. NHTSA analyses show alcohol-impaired crashes claimed a life every 51 minutes in 2010. On St Patrick's Day alone, 32 percent of fatalities from motor vehicle crashes were connected to drunk driving.
Whenever you celebrate with friends, whether at a local bar or at your home, always designate a sober driver. NHTSA also offers the following safety tips:
- Designate your sober driver or have an alternate transportation plan before the party begins.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Pace yourself – eat enough food, take breaks, and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.
- If you don't have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend, or family member to come and get you; or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.
- Use your community's sober ride program.
- Never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive and have had too much to drink.
- Always buckle up – it's still your best defense against other drunk drivers.
If you are hosting a party, then:
- Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers in advance, or help arrange alternate transportation.
- Serve lots of food and include lots of non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
- Stop serving alcohol some time before the end of the party and begin serving coffee and dessert.
- Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who has had too much to drink.