No matter your heritage, Cinco de Mayo can be a fun celebration. But a fiesta could become a fiasco if you drink and drive, AAA Mid-Atlantic said.
And this year the holiday (May 5) falls on a Sunday, heightening the risk. Impaired driving is more likely to happen on weekends, which also means you can expect to see more highway enforcement and checkpoints.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2007 to 2011, 38 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities that occurred each year around May 5 involved alcohol-impaired drivers or motorcycle operators with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 and above. During the 2011 Cinco de Mayo holiday alone, 35 percent of motor vehicle fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08 and above.
And unfortunately, 80 percent of the alcohol impaired fatalities involved a driver or motorcycle operator with nearly twice the legal limit of .15.
"Stay off the road if you've had a few too many margaritas," said Jim Lardear, director of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Be responsible, safe and sober - make arrangements to avoid driving if you plan to drink. Impaired driving is deadly – don't take a risk."
AAA also offers a link to a list of "Sober Ride" programs by state. These programs offer rides to intoxicated patrons (generally for a fee).
While not a nationwide program, a number of AAA clubs also offer Tipsy Tow service for Cinco de Mayo, however it is not available in the Mid-Atlantic region.
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AAA Tips for a Safe Cinco de Mayo & driving facts
Be a responsible partygoer:
- If you plan to drive, don't drink.
- If you plan to drink, select a designated driver and give them your car keys. If you don't have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, or stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.
- Buckle up—it's your best defense against other impaired drivers.
- If you observe an erratic driver while on the road, try to stay behind their vehicle and out of harm's way and call 911 or the police and report the driver.
Be a responsible host:
- Offer food and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers in advance, or help arrange ride-sharing with other sober drivers.
- Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter of the game and begin serving coffee and dessert.
- Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving while impaired.
Page 2 of 2 - Impaired Driving Facts:
- In 2011, more than 32,000 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States. Of those fatalities, 31 percent involved a driver or motorcycle operator that was alcohol-impaired.
- There were 48 alcohol-related highway fatalities (44 % of all fatalities) in Delaware in 2012, up from 36 in 2011.
- In Delaware, 33% of alcohol-related fatalities occurred on a Saturday or Sunday night and 56% occur between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.
- Delaware alcohol-related crashes accounted for 6% of the total crashed in 2012 in DE.