East Hawaii News

Police Encourage Safe Driving This St. Patrick’s Day

March 16, 2022, 4:00 PM HST
* Updated March 16, 3:37 PM
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Buzzed driving is drunk driving — no matter the day of the year.

The Hawai‘i Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to spread the message about the dangers of impaired driving, especially with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner.

“If you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, make sure you and your friends stay safe,” says a media release from the police department. “This means that if you plan to drink and you take prescription drugs, it’s essential that you plan ahead for a sober ride home. Remember: A sober driver is one who hasn’t had any alcohol — or drugs.”

Drug-impaired and drunk driving is a problem on Big Island highways. Whether the drug is legally prescribed or illegal, driving while drug-impaired poses a threat to the driver, vehicle passengers and other road users.

“We understand people are looking for a reason to celebrate, and we want our community members to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, but we also want to impress upon everyone the importance of safe driving,” said Torey Keltner, Hawai‘i Police Department Traffic Services program manager, in the media release. “If you’ve been drinking or taking drugs, make the right choice to find a sober driver to get you and your friends home safely.”

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Last year on Hawai‘i Island, 21 of the 26 traffic fatalities were because of impairment, either drugs, alcohol or a combination of both.

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“People need to know that they can go out for a night of fun and return home safely by ensuring they have a sober driver take them home,” Keltner said. “Don’t be the reason someone — including yourself — doesn’t get home. Don’t let St. Patrick’s Day become an anniversary of a tragic night.”

If you’re the designated driver, make sure you don’t drink so you can keep that promise of safety to yourself and your passengers. It can be a long night, but people are counting on you, not to mention the other drivers, passengers and pedestrians on the streets. Take the role of designated driver seriously.

Before ever heading out, it’s vital to plan ahead. Follow these ideas to ensure you and your fellow partygoers live to celebrate another St. Patrick’s Day:

  • Designate a sober driver or use public transportation or a ride-sharing service. Someone who’s affected by drugs or alcohol shouldn’t be making decisions about driving; that’s why having a plan is key.
  • DUI violations are not just for drunk driving. Remember, any impairment, including drugs, is illegal if you are operating a vehicle. If you are impaired by any substance, do not drive.
  • Something as simple as cold medication or an over-the-counter sleep aid can impair your driving, which could lead to you being arrested for a DUI. The effects of impaired driving are amplified if you combine drugs and alcohol.
  • Impaired? Do not drive.
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According to the press release, on average, a DUI can set a person back $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates and more.

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