Our View: Sobering facts for a holiday weekend

New data released last week by the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety indicates alcohol-related crashes are still common, even in Clark County. 

There were more than 3,900 total collisions involving alcohol in Kentucky last year, resulting in more than 1,800 injuries and 121 fatalities, according to KOHS. During the Labor Day holiday weekend, there were 57 collisions involving alcohol, resulting in 22 injuries and three fatalities. 

There were 38 alcohol-related crashes in Clark County in 2017, including one fatal wreck, according to information released by KOHS. In addition to the one fatal wreck, there 14 alcohol-related wrecks that resulted in injuries to 18 people. All crashes listed included alcohol as a factor. Some may have listed alcohol and drugs as a factor. 

In surrounding counties, impaired driving accidents ranged from five in Estill County to 396 in Fayette County. 

As the Labor Day holiday approaches, many will send summer off with celebrations. Often those celebrations involve alcohol. We encourage our readers to drink responsibly and opt not to drive if you are impaired in any way. 

In Kentucky, a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher is illegal. However, Kentucky is a zero-tolerance state so a BAC of .02 percent or higher for anyone younger than 21 is illegal.

Not only is your BAC is affected by the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed and the rate at which it was consumed, but it’s also affected considering your weight, health and how much food is in your stomach,” according to the U.S. Department of Motor Vehicles. “Aside from alcohol, your driving can be impaired by prescription, over-the-counter and illegal drugs as well as inhalants such as glues, sprays and gasoline.”

The penalties for even the first offense of driving under the influence can range from a license suspension of 30 to 120 days, jail time up to 30 days, fines of $200 to $500, mandatory alcohol or substance abuse treatment and community service. Second or more offenses can result in higher penalties, including an ignition interlock device on vehicles, which require the driver to submit to a breath test before starting the vehicle. 

Drinking and driving can be a costly and dangerous way to end a night of celebrating. Making a plan ahead of drinking is the best way to prevent accidents and fatal crashes because when you are intoxicated, your decision-making abilities are altered. Your judgment is as impaired as your ability to drive. 

The DMV suggests, establishing a designated sober driver before drinking begins, keeping the number for taxi services or using Lyft or Uber services, leaving car keys at home and understanding your limits. 

If you are sober, do not allow others to drive after drinking. Motorists and others are encouraged to report impaired drivers by calling the Kentucky State Police hotline at 800-222-5555.