SARASOTA, Fla. — As the holiday festivities ramp up, the Sarasota Police Department has teamed up with the U.S. Department of Transportation to remind drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving. 

  • Police warn of dangers of drinking and driving
  • Traffic crashes increase during holiday season
  • Officials say it's best to plan a ride home before partying

"The holidays are a time of joy and reflection, but also a time to use extra caution on the roads," said Sarasota Police Traffic Unit Officer Tim Bales. "Unfortunately, alcohol at many holiday events contributes to the number of impaired drivers on our roadways.  Help us spread the message: Even one drink is one drink too many.  If you feel buzzed, you are already drunk."

Officials say to always plan a safe ride home before you go to a party. 

According to the DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,133 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2017, and 29 percent—10,874—of those fatalities occurred in crashes in which a driver had a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit of .08 grams per deciliter.  

"We want to keep our roads safe this holiday season and help people understand that the only time they should be behind the wheel is when they are sober," said Bales.  "It doesn't matter if you're male or female, or how much you weigh, alcohol affects everyone differently, and you do not have to be feeling or acting drunk to be too impaired to drive."

Officials say drunk driving isn't the only risk on the road — drug-impaired driving is also an increasing problem. 

"If drivers are impaired by any substance, alcohol or drugs, they should not get behind the wheel of a vehicle," the report stated. 

If you can't find someone to drive you home, you can always use AAA's 'Tow To Go' service being offered through December 21.