Reporter, Martha Elson for The Courier-Journal
10:19 a.m. EST March 11, 2016

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, just remember that one more mug of green beer at the bar could cost you a lot more than $3 – maybe even $10,000 or more.

And that’s just the monetary tab for court costs, fees, towing, insurance hikes and other costs related to a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge and conviction, calculated by MSN Money – not to mention the added social price, possible job problems and more.

The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety and the Kentucky State Police are issuing advice to keep drivers and others safe on St. Patrick’s Day, including planning ahead to arrange transportation options.

Citing “horrific injuries” and loss of life, MADD Kentucky (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) asks people to think about the consequences for potential victims – who may suffer far worse consequences than a DUI conviction.

“Nothing comes close to the devastation we see daily” that victims, their families and others may experience, Rosalind Donald, a victim services specialist with the organization’s office in Frankfort, said.   “So many people are affected every day by the poor choice to drive impaired,”

“Yes, you’ll pay,” said Donald, who lives in Louisville.  “But if you’re arrested you’re lucky, because some people don’t even have that opportunity.”

Both KOHS and the state police and MADD recommend a additional tool to help prevent impaired driving – the “Drive Sober Kentucky” app for mobile devices.

St. Patrick’s Day – March 17 –  has become one of the nation’s deadliest holidays, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which reports that more than half of the fatal crashes that occurred last year during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday involved drunken drivers.

KOHS and KSP emphasize the importance of making transportation plans before the party begins.  “If you know you are going to drink, designate a sober driver ahead of time to make sure you get home safely,” said KOHS Executive Director Bill Bell. “Alcohol not only dangerously impairs your driving skills – it impairs your judgment.  Don’t wait until you’ve been drinking to find a sober driver.”

“All we ask is that when you celebrate, please be responsible,” adds KSP Sgt. Michael Webb. “Drinking and driving is dangerous and illegal.  If you’re caught driving drunk, you will be arrested.”

The “Drive Sober Kentucky” app includes contact information for local taxi services and sober ride programs, a one-touch dial feature to report a drunken driver and a link to Kentucky’s HERO designated driver campaign.  It can be downloaded for free by searching “Drive Sober Kentucky” in the app store.

“With all the sober ride options available, there is never an excuse for driving after drinking,” Bell said.  “However, with motorists still dying at the hands of a drunken driver, too many people are not getting the message.”

On average, one person is killed every 53 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in the United States, according NHTSA.  Last year, more than 18 percent of those killed on Kentucky roadways were the result of a drunken driver.

“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,” Web said.  “If you see a drunken driver, contact police when it’s safe to do so.  You could save a life.”

To prevent roadway “tragedies” from occurring, the KOHS and KSP recommend the following:

• Before the festivities begin, plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night.

• Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.

• If you are impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation or your local sober ride program.

• If you see a drunken driver, contact law enforcement. You may dial the KSP toll-free line directly at 1-800-222-5555 or use the one-touch dial feature through the “Drive Sober Kentucky” app. Callers will remain anonymous and should give a description of the vehicle, location, direction of travel and license number if possible.

• If you know people who are about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements, state safety officials say.


Reporter Martha Elson can be reached at (502) 582-7061 and  Follow her on Twitter at @MarthaElson_cj.

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