The winter season has finally arrived bringing a few of the most highly celebrated holidays in the United States.
Unfortunately, the holidays are notorious for a large count of DUI related arrests, accidents and fatalities. Driver’s across the nation have a responsibility to make the roads as safe as possible. This includes driving sober.
Like every year, we would like to remind everybody to drive safely responsibly during this holiday season.
Driving Under the Influence
Although each state has different penalties for DUIs, by law, all 50 of them have a legal limit blood alcohol content of .08%. Anyone over the legal drinking age who reaches or surpasses the legal BAC is considered too impaired to operate a motor vehicle. However, all drivers must understand that a DUI or DWI does not only involve alcohol. Any substance that can impair your judgement, reaction time and focus is a major risk. This includes cannabis and prescription medication.
DUI & Alcohol Related Accident Statistics
- According to National statistics, the highest yearly volume of DUI related arrests, citations and accidents is between the day before Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. During this time of celebrating and heavy alcohol consumption, 40% of traffic fatalities are caused by a drunk driver.
- FARS 2018 data points out that last year had approximately 10,511 alcohol related crashes nationwide
- There was a slight 3.6% decrease from 2017’s count to last year’s impaired driving fatalities, which had totaled to 10,908 deaths
- An attorney and expert in DUI accidents, Dallas W. Hartman, explains that alcohol related accidents causes a fatality every 32 minutes. It also causes an injury every 2 minutes.
- Throughout the year, about 28% of car accident fatalities involve an intoxicated driver. However, during the holiday season, the percentage climbs up to 40%. This is due to frequency of drinking, higher reported BAC levels and the significant increase of travel and vehicle traffic.
- NHTSA points out that during the past few years, the winter holiday seasons has an average of about 300 alcohol related crashes that ended with a fatality.
Preventing DUIs and Accidents
The most effective way to prevent holiday crashes and fatalities is to always drive sober and cautiously, especially during this time of year when the likelihood of being involved in an accident with an intoxicated driver is higher than usual. Here are some other ways you can prevent a serious DUI related accident or arrest:
- Rideshare Services: Rideshare services are the best option to safely travel if by any chance you or your friend had a bit too much to drink. Unfortunately, the rates may be a bit higher during this time of year. However, some companies offer holiday specials for rideshare service in efforts to reduce DUIs.
- Public Transits: The next option would be to use any public transportation systems. Like rideshares, depending on the area you live, the city will offer specials on some of the biggest drinking holidays. For example, Last Year, the city of Los Angeles offered free bus and train rides on New Years Eve. Dallas, TX offered the same for their DART system.
- Coordinate a Designated Driver: The “D.D.” is common method of preventing driving while under the influence. Anyone who chooses not to participate in any drinking, being the driver for the night is a great solution to keep your group safe.
- Sleeping Arrangements: If you are planning to visit family or friends at a house party or small get together, ask if you can spend the night. You might end up on the couch, but it’s a smart decision against risking an accident.
- Do Not Sleep in Your Car: This might seem like a smart thing to do if you haven’t planed sleeping arrangements. However, in most states, you could still be cited for a DUI. It’s difficult for a police officer to determine whether you had the intention to drive or not. To avoid this situation, the best solution is to hail a cab or Uber back home.
If You See an Intoxicated Driver
If you were to spot suspicious or reckless signs of driving, it is recommended to keep as far away from the driver as you can. There’s a chance they might be intoxicated if you notice these red flags:
- Difficulty staying in there lane / swerving
- Weaving through traffic at dangerous speeds
- Difficulty applying breaks, sudden deceleration or stops
- Not obeying traffic signs or signals
- Driver appears to be slumped over or sleepy
If you see anyone driving dangerously, you have the ability to report it. First, pull over to a safe spot and call highway patrol to report what you saw. Even though it might just be a suspicion, your local police will be able to determine if the driver was driving under the influence.