As this weekend's St. Patrick's Day celebrations approach, Oregon State Police local law enforcement agencies and traffic safety partners urge everyone to designate a sober driver -- and don't get behind the wheel if you've been drinking.
Remember: 'Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving,' so pledge and plan now to drive sober. To see videos and learn more while making the pledge to not drive while buzzed, go to http://buzzeddriving.adcouncil.org/.
"If alcohol is going to be part of your festivities, make sure you designate a sober driver to get home safely, or contact a local sober ride program or community-available transportation for a safe ride home," said OSP Sergeant Greg Plummer, DUII/SFST Program Coordinator. "Even if you've had just a few drinks, don't push your luck and try to drive."
OSP troopers, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office are partnering for increased DUII enforcement in the Portland area Saturday and Sunday, March 16 & 17.
This interagency effort is designed to encourage people to have a designated driver at all times while seeking those who would endanger others but driving while impaired.
The OSP Mobile DUII Processing Center (MDPC) motor home will be parked at PPB Central Precinct to assist with processing arrested DUII drivers. The MDPC was purchased five years ago through grant provided through ODOTs Transportation Safety Division and is equipped with three intoxilyzers, stations with laptops and printers, and two temporary holding cells. The unit also includes emergency supplies, cell phones and radio communications equipment.
Last year on St. Patrick's Day between 12 noon, Saturday, March 17, and 4:00 a.m., Sunday, March 18, three people died in two separate traffic crashes in Oregon. Neither crash was alcohol-involved. Two people died the previous year after four years of no reported traffic fatalities in Oregon during the St. Patrick's Day holiday period.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports over 700 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving a drunk driver during the St. Patrick's Day holiday from 2006 - 2010. On average, every 51 minutes a person is killed in a drunk-driving crash in the United States.
OSP troopers and local law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for intoxicated and other dangerous drivers. Last year, OSP troopers reported 23 DUII arrests statewide during the above mentioned 16-hour period. Eighteen of the 23 arrests happened between midnight and 4:00 a.m.
Oregon State Police, Oregon State Sheriffs' Association, Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, ODOT and the Oregon Health Authority's Addictions and Mental Health Division recommend the following precautions to help everyone enjoy a safe St. Patrick's Day:
*Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin and designate a sober driver.
*If you decide to drink once you're out, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
*If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement by calling 9-1-1 or 1-800-24-DRUNK.
*If you are hosting a party, serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages.
*And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help make other arrangements to get them to where they are going safely.
Additional information is available at www.StopImpairedDriving.org.
Questions about any local enforcemenet efforts should be directed to your local law enforcement agencies and OSP offices.