St. Patrick's Day used to be a time to wear green and look for shamrocks, but it has become a night to celebrate and, for many, a night to drink.
That's why Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) members and law enforcement officials are warning people not to drink and drive.
The Missouri Highway Patrol and the Columbia and Jefferson City Police Departments are cracking down on drunk drivers from March 14th to the 17th.
Grant money from the Missouri Department of Transportation's Traffic & Highway Safety Division will pay officers' overtime for the weekend. The Columbia Police Department will hold at least one sobriety checkpoint and will increase saturation patrols. ã??
"It's never worth the risk to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drivers can lose their license, pay large fines, or worst of all, cause a tragic loss of life," Jefferson City Police Chief Roger Schroeder said. "The only safe driver is one that is completely sober."
Highway patrol statistics show there were 231 people killed and 841 seriously injured on Missouri roadways in 2012 involving alcohol and drugs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes cost more than an estimated $37 billion annually. In 2010, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes - one every 51 minutes.
In Jefferson City, you can have a local establishment call Sober Driver (573-636-7102) to get you a free ride home if you are impaired or are with a driver who is drunk. Party Hosts can get Sober Driver Tickets by contacting Fechtel Beverage at 573-636-5161 or Sgt. Doug Ruediger at 573-634-6397.
MADD is asking people to take a pledge to be a designated driver, not to drink and drive, and to share that pledge on their Facebook and Twitter pages to remind others as well.