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Donya Currie is the editor of The Free Lance-Star's Healthy Life section and Healthy Life Virginia newsletter.

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Sobering facts

St. Patrick’s Day might be a great time to try out green beer, but it’s also a day many people make the wrong decision to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.

Thirty-four percent of deadly St. Patrick’s Day crashes in 2011 were linked to drunk driving, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s more than a third.

What to do? Here are some tips from AAA Mid-Atlantic:

“If you’re venturing out to an Irish pub or attending a St. Patrick’s Day party, plan ahead.

  • If you plan to drive, don’t drink.
  • If you plan to drink, pre-select your designated driver before the party begins and give that person your car keys.
  •  If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend or family member to come get you; or stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.
  • Never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive while impaired.

If you’re hosting the party where alcohol is being served, be a responsible host

  • Have food and non-alcoholic beverages available.
  • Remember that it takes 40 minutes or longer for alcohol from a drink to be absorbed.
  •  Take note of who’s coming, who drinks, and who drives.
  • 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 least an hour before your guests start to leave for home.
  • Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving while impaired.”

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