Rice County Sheriff Jesse Thomas realizes with the pandemic apparently winding down people want to get out and celebrate this St. Patrick's Day.

Exactly two years ago this St. Patrick's Day was when the Governor ordered a shut down of bars and restaurants in Minnesota and only essential workers were allowed by executive order to go in to their workplace.

If you plan to drink any alcoholic beverages the Toward Zero Deaths Minnesota Coallition advises you to drive smart by planning a sober ride home.  Don't get behind the wheel.

Rice County Toward Zero Deaths Coordinator Kathy Cooper states in a News Release, "Alcohol and drug impairment is one of the most dangerous driving behaviors seen on Minnesota Roads. There were 397 drunk driving-related deaths in Minnesota in the last five years (2016-2020), with 79 people killed in 2020 alone."

"Alcohol-related crashses not only take lives, they change them forever.  An average of 384 life-changing injuries were caused by alcohol-related crashes in that same period."

Sheriff Thomas says, "We understand people are looking for a reason to celebrate and we want our community members to to enjoy St. Patrick's Day, but we also want to impress upon everyone the importance fo safe driving."

"If you've been drinking make the right choice to find a sober driver to get you and your friends home safely." The Rice County Sheriff adds.

Please Drive Sober: Drive Smart

  • Plan for a safe ride. Designate a sober driver, use public transportation, a cab or app-based ride service, or stay at the location of the party.
  • Speak up, Offer to be a designated driver or to be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere.
  • Buckle up. tje best defense against a drunk driver.
  • Report drunk driving, Call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior.  Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.

This is the 17th year Rice County has received a Toward Zero Deaths Grant which pays for extra law enforcement to be on the roads during holidays or other times when extra drinking is anticipated.

All law enforcement agencies in Rice County participate.  Faribault Police Department, Northfield Police Department, Rice County Sheriff's Office, Dundas Police Department, Lonsdale Police Department.  This collaborative effort allows law enforcement to target specific roadways in force to ensure there are no impaired drivers.

It's not just in Rice County either.  In the Southeast, 11-county region there is more collaboration.  The Rice County Safe Roads Coalition along with the Coalitions in other counties are distributing bar coasters like the one pictured above to all bars and restaurants with a reminder to plan ahead for a safe ride home.

You need more than the luck o' the Irish to get home safely St. Patrick's Day.

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