TEAM Georgia and the Georgia Governorʼs Office of Highway

Safety Hold Press Conference

Warn Holiday Revelers about drinking and driving around St.

Patrickʼs Holiday

(from left to right: Jason Anavitarte, Director Harris Blackwood, Ron Fennel, Sgt. Collins)


(Atlanta—Wednesday, March 13, 2013) TEAM Georgia and the Governorʼs Office of Highway Safety held a successful press conference today to remind and educate Georgia motorists that if they drive impaired this St. Patrickʼs holiday they will need more than the luck of the Irish to get out of trouble.


The media event, held at Meehanʼs Pub at Atlantic Station, was produced by TEAM Georgia and hosted by Ron Fennel, Chairman of TEAM Georgia. Fennel reminded the group that TEAM Georgiaʼs mission is to foster safe and sober driving habits on Georgia roads and waterways and that “a safe ride home is just a phone call away”.


Fennel went on to say: “For more than two decades, TEAM Georgia has created and implemented public education and awareness programs to encourage all Georgians to use alcohol responsibly while on the roadways and waterways. Our major programming includes the TEAM Georgia Designated Driver Booths at the Georgia Dome, Philips Arena, Turner Field and the Gwinnett Arena where we have collected over 300,000 Designated Driver Pledges; the statewide Safe Skipper Program, and other important education and awareness program. Todayʼs press conference marks the first event in a series of Safe Holiday events that TEAM Georgia will hold during 2013.”


All the media event speakers took advantage of this holiday period to remind us all that drinking and driving donʼt mix. Georgia has a zero tolerance policy towards driving over the .08 blood alcohol limit and if over the limit, drivers will be arrested.

Ron Fennel speaks with John Clark from the Georgia News Network


Sargent Stacey Collins - Assistant Post Commander--Nighthawks DUI Task Force, Georgia State Patrol-- reminded motorists that increased enforcement during the Holiday weekend will no doubt catch up with them if they drive impaired. He supplied the group with recent statistics about drunk drivers—both nationally and for Georgia. Among other things, Collins stated that more than 700 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving a drunk driver during the St. Patrickʼs holiday from 2006 to 2010. He also reminded us that overall, one person is killed in a drunk driving crash every 51 minutes and a majority of these crashes involve drivers with blood alcohol levels almost twice the legal limit.

Jason Anavitarte speaks about the loss of his brother Joshua to a drunk driver


We also heard from Jason Anavitarte who is an executive with Kaiser Permanente and was a major sponsor of the TEAM Georgia media event. Jason is Vice-Chair of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving [MADD] State Operations Committee in Georgia.


Jason related a very personal story to the group that highlights the importance of our mission at TEAM Georgia. Jasonʼs brother Joshua, a college student at the time, was killed in a crash as a passenger that involved a drunk driver. The crash occurred in Fulton County on March 3, 2002. Needless to say, Jasonʼs compelling story forced us all to redouble our efforts to get drunk and impaired drivers off our roads and waterways.


Ron Fennel closed the media event by thanking everyone for their participation at the event as we all begin celebrating St. Patrickʼs Day and the 2013 Team Georgia Safe Holiday Campaign.


Fennel reminded everyone that there are several ways you can be safe while celebrating:


1. Select a Designated Driver who can get your party home safely

2. Pass the keys if you feel impaired

3. Call Checker Cab

4. Call AAA/ Budweiser Tow to Go

5. Download and use the new GOHS app to find a safe ride home. He wished all a Safe and Happy St. Patrickʼs Day and asked everyone to please be Safe.

Sgt. Collins from the Nighthawks DUI Task Force speaks


Harris Blackwood, Director of the Governorʼs Office of Highway Safety, told the group— “While the familiar refrain on St. Patrickʼs Day is kiss me Iʼm Irish, I would rather hear impaired partygoers say—Drive me, Iʼm drunk.” Blackwood took the opportunity to educate the public at large. “Impaired drivers should utilize the newly refreshed ʻDrive Sober, Georgiaʼ app to find a ride home. Impaired drivers can find a safe ride home by downloading the app to search data bases for safe and sober ride options in Atlanta and all over the state.”