Be Smart, Don’t Rely on Luck

This is one sample of news releases customized by county throughout the state.

Cowlitz County, WA – As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, remember finding a designated driver isn’t luck, it’s smart. Make sure you and your friends get home safely.

The Cowlitz County Traffic Safety Task Force is reminding drivers not to get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking alcohol. Extra patrols will be going on during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, between March 14 and 17, where local law enforcement agencies will be actively looking for impaired drivers. Participating in these St. Patrick’s Day patrols are the Castle Rock, Kalama, Kelso, Longview andWoodland Police Departments, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol.

“Whether you are gathering with friends at the local bar, or a private party, if alcohol is part of the festivities, following a simple plan will save you a lot of headaches,” said Samantha Thompson, Cowlitz County Target Zero manager. A DUI arrest is not the worst that can happen, you can be charged with vehicular homicide or vehicular assault if someone is killed or injured while you were driving impaired. Last July, the penalty for vehicular homicide in Washington State increased from 61 months to 78 months.

Washington State has a plan to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries to Zero by the year 2030 through a variety of strategies, including education, engineering, emergency medical services, and enforcement. One person is killed every 53 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in the United States, the majority of these crashes involve drivers who have a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher. Twice the per se limit of .08.

To prevent these tragedies from occurring, the “Target Zero” task force recommends the following steps to have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day:
• Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.
• If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member.
• If you see an impaired driver, call 911.
• And remember, if you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get where they’re going safely.