Agencies remind public of danger of drunken driving during holiday

State police units are seen in this file photo from Sept. 28, 2021. - File photo by The Sentinel-Record

The Hot Springs Police Department and Arkansas State Police are teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to "spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving" on St. Patrick's Day.

"This year, St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday, and that means more parties throughout the weekend," HSPD Officer 1st Class Omar Cervantes, the department's public information officer, said in a news release.

"If you've been drinking, make the smart choice to plan for a sober driver to get you and your friends home safely. Before you put your keys in the ignition, remind yourself: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving."

Cervantes noted the united campaign targeting drunken drivers and emphasizing that "Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving," begins Friday and will run through Sunday.

According to NHTSA, 11,654 people were killed in drunken driving crashes in 2020. On average, more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2016 to 2020 and one person was killed in a drunken driving crash every 45 minutes in 2020.

"St. Patrick's Day is one of the deadliest times on our nation's roads. During the 2016-2020 St. Patrick's Day holiday period, from 6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18, 287 lives were lost in drunk-driving crashes," the release states.

In 2020 alone, 37 people were killed in drunken driving crashes over the St. Patrick's Day holiday period.

"Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly; lack of attention to surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle," it states.

"Drunk drivers are a continuing problem on our nation's roads, especially around days like St. Patrick's Day," Cervantes said. "People need to know that they can go out for a night of fun and return home safely by ensuring they have a sober driver take them home. Don't be the reason someone -- including yourself -- doesn't get home. Don't let St. Patrick's Day become an anniversary of a tragic night."

For more information about the campaign, visit