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Be extra safe this St. Patrick’s Day

Area celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day likely will be more subdued this year.

Several parades — including Pittsburgh’s –have been canceled, as concerns have grown about the possibility of spreading illness linked to COVID-19, the coronavirus.

Those same worries likely will keep some people out of other public spaces this weekend. That said, there’s a very strong possibility that there will be a lot of alcohol consumed between now and Tuesday as many people still will be looking for a reason to celebrate.

With that in mind, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the West Virginia State Police and the Pennsylvania State Police are urging party goers not to push the “luck of the Irish” and get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence.

Troopers with those agencies, as well as officers with township, village, city and county departments, are urging those who plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day to designate a sober driver. The state agencies and local law enforcement will be working together to remove impaired drivers from the roadways to ensure the safety of all motorists.

Everyone involved in law enforcement agrees that the popularity of the holiday, along with increased alcohol consumption, can make it a dangerous time to be on the road.

Need a reminder? Consider some statistics: There were 269 drunk-driving deaths on St. Patrick’s Day in the United States between 2012 and 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and 38 percent of drivers killed had a blood-alcohol level higher than .08. It only gets worse the later the evening gets — 69 percent of crash fatalities that happen between midnight and 5:59 a.m. on March 18 involve drunk drivers, NHTSA adds.

Even those who choose to walk are not that safe — 36 percent of pedestrians killed in St. Patrick’s Day crashes had a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher.

An OVI conviction likely will result in a suspension of a driver’s license, possible jail time and large fines. It is a major inconvenience, which also could put your job at risk because you can’t drive.

Not only do you put yourself and everyone else in your vehicle in jeopardy when you drink and drive, but you put every innocent driver on the road in danger.

Let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day responsibly. Have fun, but make sure there’s someone with you who won’t be drinking who can be the designated driver.

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