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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Media Contact: Sunni Brown
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6834

Designate a Sober Driver for March Celebrations
Plan Ahead for Safe St. Patricks Day, NCAA Tournament

RICHMOND - With St. Patrick’s Day and the start of the NCAA basketball tournament just days apart this year, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is urging revelers to designate a sober driver before celebrating either event. Also, DMV reminds motorists to always buckle up; it's their best defense against drunk drivers.

"We know that St. Patrick’s Day is widely celebrated, and the NCAA "March Madness" tournament has become a festive occasion, as well," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "We want people who plan to drink to designate a driver before the party starts. A designated driver must be a sober driver - one who decides not to drink alcohol at all."

In 2012, March was second only to April for the number of alcohol-related crashes. There were 746 drunk-driving crashes last March, including 6 fatalities and 511 injuries. On St. Patrick's Day last year in Virginia, there were 44 crashes with 37 injuries that were alcohol-related. On Patrick's Day in 2011, there were 28 alcohol-related crashes, 15 alcohol-related injuries and one alcohol-related fatality in Virginia.

DMV recommends the following tips for a safe March celebration:

  • Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
  • Designate a sober driver.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road - keep your distance; pull over in a safe place and dial #77 if you are driving in Virginia to report it to law enforcement.
  • If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

"There is plenty to celebrate in March, but no celebration should lead to a trip to the hospital, or worse," Holcomb said. "When you drive impaired, not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest can be significant."

The tragedies from drunk driving are not limited to death, disfigurement, disability or injury. Convicted drunk drivers face jail time, loss of their driver's license, higher insurance rates, and dozens of other expenses including attorney fees, fines, court costs and lost time at work.

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