There is always a reason to celebrate, and Cinco de Mayo is no exception.
Various Mexican restaurants will have drink specials and meal offers, today, for the celebration, which translates to May 5.
But law enforcement officials, and others, are advising that celebrants use caution, and don't mix drinking and driving.
"Cinco de Mayo falls on a Thursday this year, and it has become an increasingly popular holiday," said Ed Schatzman, senior vice president of automotive services, for the American Automobile Association's AAA Auto Club South. "It is so important to not drive impaired, if you plan to meet a few friends after work or attend a party."
Though celebrated with fervor across this continent, the local Mexican community has a mixed response to the holiday's importance to its culture. Rosalia Ruiz, a cashier at La Oaxaquena Taqueria, in Jonesboro, said that, in Mexico, the holiday –– which commemorates the Mexican army's victory over French forces at the Battle de Puebla, on May 5, 1862 –– is traditional and very special.
"It is something very important in Mexico," said Ruiz in Spanish. She said she has been in the U.S. for 12 years, and has not forgotten her roots, her culture and the importance of the holiday. "The best thing to do is to embrace your culture and pass it down to your children," said Ruiz.
Jessel Soriano, however, a manager at Pueblo Viejo Mexican Restaurant, in Stockbridge, said Cinco de Mayo is recognized in Mexico, but is not celebrated. "We [Mexicans] really don't celebrate it," she said. "A lot of people celebrate it to get drunk."
Felipe Rodriguez, a server at Pueblo Viejo Restaurant, said he is Argentinean, but celebrates the holiday with friends. "It's just an excuse to come together and have fun," said the 19-year-old.
Leobardo Del la Oreyes, a cook at Taco Mac, in Stockbridge, said he is from Veracruz, Mexico, and considers Cinco de Mayo a very festive celebration in his country. "It's a big day for me," he said in Spanish.
Sgt. Otis Willis, public information officer for the Clayton County Police Department, said people tend to drink alcoholic beverages slightly more than usual during a holiday, and over-indulging may lead to various troublesome situations. Additional units from the police department will be patrolling the county, during the holiday, to keep the public safe, he said.
"I want to remind people to remember the reason for celebrating the holiday and to have a safe holiday," said Willis. Businesses should not serve alcohol to patrons, who are intoxicated, whether or not they are driving, he stressed.
People "should avoid over-drinking, even if they're not driving, because other situations may occur that may not be beneficial to the person or those around [them]," added Willis.
He said, if a person sees an intoxicated individual entering a vehicle from the driver's side, he or she should call 911. Law enforcement should also be contacted if people are drinking alcohol in public areas, fighting, or driving recklessly.
Impaired drivers can be noticed through various behaviors, including reckless driving, not maintaining the driving lane, driving with the headlights off (at night), abrupt stopping, improper turning, and weaving in and out of lanes to pass other vehicles, he said.
People who witness these behaviors should call law enforcement and provide a good description of the vehicle, including its make and model, tag number, location and any feature that may distinguish it from other vehicles, said Willis.
Cinco de Mayo is a popular holiday in the U.S., and is often celebrated through parties, particularly among young adults, said Joanna Newton, spokesperson for AAA Auto Club South. These parties often involve alcoholic beverages.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the holiday has become a dangerous day, due to the significant number of impaired drivers. To keep impaired drivers off the roads, AAA Auto Club South and Budweiser have partnered to provide free "Tow to Go" rides for people who have had too much to drink, said Newton.
People will be able to get a confidential ride home from a bar or restaurant, while their vehicle is towed, calling 1-800-222-4357, she said.
She said to avoid such a predicament, people should choose a designated driver, who will not drink alcohol. The designated driver should be selected in the beginning of the night, and once the driver is chosen, he or she should be given the car keys, Newton explained.
"Program the numbers of cab companies in your cell phone before going out, in case your designated driver doesn't come through for you," she said. "If a person is unable to obtain a safe ride home, he or she should call Tow to Go."
Newton said the program has safely removed more than 13,900 drunk drivers off the roads, since its inception in 1998. The program is offered throughout Georgia, Florida and west and middle Tennessee, she added.