Commemorating Mexico’s 1862 defeat of French forces, Cinco de Mayo—only sporadically celebrated throughout Mexico—didn’t gain widespread popularity as a U.S. holiday until the 1960s, when it became a way for Mexican-Americans to celebrate their heritage and for Anglo-Americans to learn about Mexican culture.
But, as the holiday’s popularity began to grow in the 1980s, alcohol companies viewed this as a prime marketing opportunity and the link between Cinco de Mayo and drinking began.
Cinco de Saturday—Weekend holidays mean more drunk driving
With special “fiesta” themed cocktails, local bar crawls, and even Cinco de Mayo-specific TV commercials sponsored by big alcohol brands, the connection between drinking and this festive holiday remains strong. Bars, restaurants, and partygoers are already gearing up for a weekend of tequila-fueled entertainment using social media hashtags like #CincodeMayo and #CincodeDrinko to promote their plans for the weekend.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports that twice as many drunk driving crashes happen on weekends, and when you throw a holiday into the mix, that number tends to increase. Data from Alcohol Monitoring Systems also shows that drinking violations by monitored, repeat DUI offenders are generally two to three times higher when a holiday falls on a weekend compared to when it occurs on a weekday.
In fact, in 2016 alone, 78 people were killed in drunk-driving related crashes over the Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend, and almost 20% of drivers in fatal crashes had BACs of .15 or higher, according to NHTSA.
If you choose to have a margarita or two and party like there’s no mañana, make sure to follow these tips to have a safe Cinco de Mayo.
- Plan your sober ride home before you leave for the party. There’s nothing worse than having to worry about how you are getting home at the end of the night or making the wrong decision to drive impaired. Before you take your first sip, designate a sober driver, utilize ride-sharing or taxi services, or arrange to stay the night.
- Understand how much you are actually consuming. Margaritas account for almost half of all drinks ordered on Cinco de Mayo, but many people don’t realize that the average margarita is equal to two to three “standard” drinks. Pace yourself by alternating alcoholic beverages with water, and make sure to have a bite to eat before you drink.
- Leave your car at home. Remove the temptation to drive by leaving your car at home. Not only will you avoid traffic and DUI checkpoints, but you might even save money on parking!