ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) – PennDOT is reminding motorists to avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol through the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, and always.
Representatives from PennDOT, Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), and the Pennsylvania DUI Association gathered Monday during an Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement class at the National Guard Readiness Center in Cambridge Springs, Crawford County, to discuss the dangers of impaired driving.
The course trains law enforcement personnel to observe, identify, and document the signs of impairment related to drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both, to reduce the number of impaired driving crashes.
The joint event was planned in connection with the statewide St. Patrick’s Day impaired driving enforcement period, which runs through Thursday, March 17.
According to preliminary PennDOT data, during the 2021 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period beginning at 6:00 pm March 12, through 6:00 am March 18, there were 213 crashes involving an impaired driver, resulting in nine fatalities.
“Driving impaired is never the right decision and we are asking motorists to keep safety at the forefront of their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations,” said PSP Community Services Officer Michelle McGee. “Even a small amount of alcohol can impair someone’s ability to operate a vehicle, so be sure to plan ahead and arrange for a sober driver to get home safely. Doing so could save your life or someone else’s.”
A common myth regarding impaired driving is that beer doesn’t have as much alcohol content as hard liquor. However, a 12-oz. bottle of beer has the same amount of alcohol as a standard shot of 80-proof liquor or five ounces of wine.
Alcohol also affects each person differently, depending on factors such as body weight and the regularity of consumption.
“While alcohol impairment continues to be an issue on our state’s roadways, we are seeing even more motorists driving under the influence of drugs,” said Craig Amos, a Regional Program Administrator for the Pennsylvania DUI Association. “Illegal drugs, prescription medications, and over-the-counter drugs can all lead to impairment that can have fatal consequences when getting behind the wheel.”
Some effects of drug and alcohol use on driving include:
- Alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs can impair the ability to drive because they slow coordination, judgment, and reaction times.
- Cocaine and methamphetamine can make drivers more aggressive and reckless.
- Using two or more drugs at the same time, including alcohol, can amplify the impairing effects of each drug a person has consumed.
- Some prescription and over-the-counter medicines can cause extreme drowsiness, dizziness, and other side effects. Read and follow all warning labels before driving, and note that warnings against “operating heavy machinery” include driving a vehicle.