Many Pennsylvanians, St. Patrick's Day has become a popular night out to celebrate with friends and family. Unfortunately, due to the large number of drunk drivers, the night out has also become very dangerous.

On St. Patrick's Day 2009, approximately 37 percent of the drivers and motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above, according to statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Whether you are meeting a few friends at the local pub after work or attending your local St. Patrick's Day celebration events, if you plan on using alcohol, never drive while impaired-and never let your friends drive if you think they are impaired. Driving impaired this St. Patrick's Day will cost you a lot of green," said Stephen Erni, executive director of the PA DUI Association.

PennDOT statistics show that in 2010, there were 26 impaired driving related crashes and one fatality on St. Patrick's Day itself. Out of that number, 12 of those crashes involved at least one driver or m

The PA DUI Association recommends the following easy steps, for a safe St. Patrick's Day.

Ÿ Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;

Ÿ Before drinking, please designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home;

Ÿ If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely;

Ÿ If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don't hesitate to contact your local law enforcement by dialing 911;

Ÿ And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

"Driving impaired is simply not worth the risk," said Erni. "Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can be really significant. Don't depend on dumb luck this St. Patrick's Day. Designate your sober driver before the party begins."

For more information, visit www.StopImpairedDriving.orgor www.drivesafepa.org.

Pennsylvania DUI Association