If you find yourself in a bar singing “beer, beer, tiddly beer” for the fourth or fifth time on Tuesday, you’re probably in need of a designated driver, the Santa Barbara Police Department cautions. March 17, or St. Patrick’s Day, has become a deadly one in the U.S. with a spike of 31 drunk-driving fatalities occurring in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And in the past several years, in three-quarters of the DUI fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day, drivers have registered twice the legal limit.
As well as being aware of DUI checkpoints going up around town on the 17th, law enforcement also advises St. Paddy’s Day revelers to:
• Download the DDVIP (Designated DriverVIP) app, which lists bars and restaurants offering free nonalcoholic drinks for friends driving sober.
• Store Uber, Lyft, or a taxi company number in your phone now.
• Leave your car keys at home, if you plan to drink, or give them to a friend.
• Take a friend’s keys if you know they should not drive.
• Realize that drugs and medications also cause accidents. Thirty percent of drivers in fatal car crashes had one or more drugs in their system.
On the highways, the California Highway Patrol will be on the lookout for impaired drivers, a vigilance that has netted increasing numbers of drivers over the years: 489 in 2014, 430 in 2013, and 300 in 2012 across the state. “Our officers will be watching for impaired drivers, to keep everyone safe,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Designate a sober driver. Plan ahead to protect your life, your vehicle, and your friends.”