COMMUNITY CORNER - Celebrate safely on St. Patrick’s Day

By Col. Andrew Cole | GARRISON COMMANDER | March 25, 2014

Oh, the wearin’ o’ the green. Even if you’re not Irish, St. Patrick’s Day can be a fun day to celebrate with friends and family, especially with the start of today’s four-day weekend.

Whether your plans include attending a parade, festival, going to a friend’s house, celebrating at a local bar or hosting a party, I want to remind everyone to designate a sober driver before alcohol is consumed.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, alcohol-impaired crashes claimed a life every 53 minutes in 2011. On St. Patrick’s Day alone, more than a third of fatalities from motor vehicle crashes – 34 percent – were connected to drunk driving. The national average for alcohol impaired fatalities in that year was 31 percent.

Please consider the following tips before making your St. Patrick Day plans:

Designate a sober driver or have an alternate transportation plan before the party begins.

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 and get you; or just stay where you are and don’t drive until you are sober.

Never let a friend drive drunk. Arrange a safe way for them to get home.

Don’t ride in a vehicle with a driver who is intoxicated.

Always buckle up. It’s still your best defense against drunk drivers.

If you are hosting a party:

Make sure all guests designate sober drivers in advance or help arrange alternate transportation.

Serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages at the party.

Stop serving alcohol a few hours before the end of the party and begin serving coffee and dessert.

Keep the phone number of local cab companies available and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving drunk and get them a cab ride home.

According to the NHTSA website:

A person can be held liable and prosecuted if someone he or she served ends up in a drunk-driving crash.

If an underage person drinks and drives, parents may be held liable for any damage, injury or death caused by the underage driver.

Parents or other adults who provide alcohol to or host a party where alcohol is available to those under age 21 could face jail time.


Soldiers and dependents on post also can take Riley Ride, a shuttle service between Fort Riley and Manhattan, which operates from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights.

The Riley Ride bus picks passengers up at several locations on post, like barracks buildings and common areas, including the Warrior Zone and Custer Hill Bowling Center. The Manhattan stop is located at 12th Street and Bluemont Ave.

Soldiers and dependents can purchase tickets on the bus or at the Leisure Travel Center. Tickets cost $5 for two rides or $10 for five rides, and must be paid in cash.

A noncommissioned officer is stationed on the bus throughout the night to verify the eligibility of passengers, maintain order and ensure the safety of its passengers, as well as others on the road.

For a full schedule of Riley Ride stops and times, visit

For more information about Riley Ride, call the Leisure Travel Center, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, at 785-239-5614.

As with any weekend, the Fort Riley Police Department will have a presence on the installation to monitor for safety on the roads. For Soldiers, getting a DUI also involves their chain of command, which can affect their career.

So my advice to you is: Do not drive impaired and risk a driving under the influence charge – or worse injuring yourself or others.

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