St. Patrick’s Day occurs this Saturday, March 17, in observance of the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. According to History.com this began as a religious feast day in the 17th century that has evolved into a variety of festivals across the globe celebrating Irish culture with parades, special foods, music, dancing and a whole lot of green.

In fact, each year, in Savannah, GA, the city celebrates St. Patrick’s Day where participants watch the famous parade,  women dash out into the streets to kiss a uniformed service member, there’s a lot of dancing, eating and lots of green beer. According to CNN.com, Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is the second-largest in the United States and the third-largest in the world.

Southernliving.com gave ten reasons to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah:

  1. Savannah is Perfect for a Weekend Getaway
  2. Savannah is Home to the Largest St.  Patrick’s Day Parade
  3. Where Else Can you Celebrate All Weekend Long?
  4. You’ll See “Kiss me, I’m Irish” in Action.
  5. The Marching Bands are Actually Good.
  6. You Can See Beloved Clydesdale Horses.
  7. The Greening of the Fountain in Forsyth Park is a Sight to Behold.
  8. There’s Beer, Guinness and, Oh, More Beer.
  9. There Will Be Themed Races to Burn Off All the Corned Beef and Cabbage.
  10. One word: Nightlife.

With all of the reasons to attend this annual celebration, it is important that we remind you that Georgia State Troopers are encouraging St. Patrick’s Day partygoers to be safe this weekend. “Make safety a priority. Driving impaired is dangerous and not worth the risk of killing yourself or someone else,” said Colonel Mark W. McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. If you consume alcohol during your celebrations, make sure you designate a sober driver before the party begins. “If you don’t have a designated driver, call a taxi, a friend, or a family member to help you get home safely,” he added.

Impaired driving is one of the leading contributing factors in a majority of the fatal traffic crashes that troopers investigate. Party hosts can help reduce the number of impaired drivers by planning their events carefully.  Hosts should serve lots of food, non-alcoholic beverages, and make sure their guests designate sober drivers. “If you suspect someone is driving impaired, do not hesitate to notify local law enforcement,” Colonel McDonough said.  “Also if you see someone who is about to drive impaired, try to help them make other arrangements to get home,” he added.

In fact, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides its own top 10 list for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this weekend:

  1. Designate a sober driver or have an alternate transportation plan before the party begins.
  2. If you don’t have a designated driver, you can use NHTSA’s SaferRide app to call a taxi or a friend. The app is available for Android devices on Google Play, and Apple devices on the iTunes store.
  3. Never let a friend drive drunk. Arrange a safe way for them to get home.
  4. Don’t ride in a vehicle with a driver who is intoxicated.
  5. Always buckle up. It’s still your best defense against drunk drivers.
  6. Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers in advance.
  7. Take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving after drinking and get them a cab ride home.
  8. Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served alcohol to ends up in a drunk-driving crash.
  9. If an underage person drinks and drives, parents may be held liable for any damage, injury or death caused by the underage driver.
  10. Likewise, parents or other adults who provide alcohol to, or host a party where alcohol is available to, those under age 21 could face jail time.

In addition to designated drivers and ridesharing services, drivers in Georgia can get a free tow and ride home up to ten miles from AAA’s Tow-To-Go service. The free tow and rides from AAA’s Tow-To-Go will begin on Friday and end at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 18. TEAM Georgia partner and sponsor Checker Cab of Atlanta will also provide free rides home from 6 p.m. on March 16 to 6 a.m. on March 18.

This past Tuesday, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety joined the Safe and Sober Driving Coalition TEAM Georgia, the Georgia Department of Public Safety and the Georgia Department of Transportation to encourage everyone to plan ahead for a sober ride if their St. Patrick’s celebration is going to include alcohol. They have also provided video cuts from the news conference and photos. Please click on the following link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/sp8n8ec5ulk39a3/TEAM%20Georgia%20St.%20Patricks%20Day%20DUI%20Prevention.mpg?dl=0

Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day festivities, but please make safe driving a priority!