Cinco de Mayo: Fiesta Time or Jail Time?

Cinco08_Jail_72dpiIn the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become synonymous with festive fiestas and salty margaritas. Historically, the fifth of May commemorates Mexico’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War, but present-day celebrations often lead to drunk driving—and there’s no victory in that. If you are planning to party this Cinco de Mayo, keep this number in mind: 343 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes over the Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend in 2014 (6 p.m. Friday, May 2 to 5:59 a.m. Tuesday, May 6). Of those 343 people who lost their lives, 34 percent (116) died in drunk-driving crashes. And the drivers in those crashes weren’t just a little drunk. Sadly, almost one out of five (17%) of all the drivers in fatal crashes that weekend had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .15 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher—almost two times the illegal limit in every state.

In the rush of party preparations and getting dressed up for a night out, it’s easy to forget the most important Cinco de Mayo plan of all: designating a sober driver. Seventy percent of the drivers in fatal crashes on Cinco de Mayo weekend in 2014 had alcohol in their systems. Some fiesta-goers think they can play it by ear and wait until after the party has started to decide whether they’re “okay to drive.” By this point, it’s too late. Going out for a night of drinking without a plan for getting home safely is a recipe for disaster.

Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving, and when you drive drunk, you run the risk of killing yourself or someone else. You will be looking at jail time, the loss of your driver license, higher insurance rates, or dozens of other unanticipated expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car or motorcycle towing and repairs, and lost wages due to time off from work. The average DUI costs about $10,000. Wouldn’t you rather pay for a ride home?

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that drunk-driving crash fatalities are a disturbing Cinco de Mayo trend. From 2010-2014, more than one-third (38%) of all traffic crash fatalities during the Cinco de Mayo holiday period (6 p.m. May 4 to 5:59 a.m. May 6), on average, were drunk-driving related. That’s higher than the national daily average for drunk-driving fatalities —31 percent. To address this concern, the Alliance for Safe Kids is joining with law enforcement and other partners across New York and the nation to remind partygoers that drunk driving should never be part of your Cinco de Mayo plans.

“We are here to help save lives,” said Tricy Cushner, President & CEO of Alliance for Safe Kids. “Around the Yorktown community, we want people to understand that drinking a little is the same as drinking a lot when it comes to getting in your car and driving home. You can’t, and you shouldn’t. Remember that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

Cinco de Mayo can be a fun and festive time for those who choose to celebrate the right way: with a plan for a sober ride home. If you make your plans when you’re sober, before you ever leave your home, you won’t make the bad decision to drive when you’re drunk. Consider downloading NHTSA’s SaferRide app, available on iTunes at or through Google Play at, and ensuring you have the phone number for at least two taxi companies in your phone.

Across the United States, drunk driving is an epidemic. On average in 2014, someone was killed in a drunk-driving crash every 53 minutes. On Cinco de Mayo weekend, that equaled 116 lives lost in drunk-driving crashes. The family members and friends of those people killed likely wish they could go back to May 5, 2014, and say or do something to prevent the drunk-driving crash that took their loved one. So before your first margarita, cold beer, or shot of tequila this Cinco de Mayo, make sure you have a designated sober driver or arranged another safe way home. Decide today that you won’t ever drive after drinking. And if you know someone who is about to drive drunk, step in and help. Take their keys and help them make arrangements to get home safely.

A final statistic to remember: drunk-driving deaths are 100-percent preventable.

Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

For more information visit,