Drinking and Driving During the Holidays
With the holiday season comes family gatherings, social time with friends, and even office parties. These are all joyous occasions, but they can have a dark side as well. The year-end holiday season is the deadliest part of the year in terms of drunk driving accidents and their catastrophic results.
Of the top ten deadliest drunk driving holidays in the U.S., four occur in last the six weeks of the year. These are Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas week, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the increased volume of cars on the road coupled with a greater number of alcohol-related accidents leads to twice as many DUI-related deaths during the holiday season.
The night before Thanksgiving is now called “Blackout Wednesday” because it has become one of the busiest drinking days of the year. Since most businesses are closed on Thanksgiving Day, it has become a tradition for bars to have specials on Wednesday night which are well attended by the hoards of college students who have come home for the holiday. Traffic deaths around this date have now reached over 400 in number annually.
Christmas day has its share of drunk driving accidents, although not as many as some might think. By and large, Christmas tends to be a time that families spend together, and there are often fewer people on the roads than usual.
Christmas Eve is another story. Traffic stops and DUI arrests often go up by as much as one-third on Christmas Eve. This is because people go out to holiday parties and tend to over-imbibe. These are often people who don’t drink on a regular basis so may not be aware of their limitations.
New Year’s Eve is another example of a holiday where drinking and driving is an issue. In fact, drunk driving arrests and alcohol-related accidents can increase as much as 40% on this night alone. Fortunately, when New Year’s Eve falls in the middle of the week, these numbers are lower than if it fell on a weekend.
Your Responsibility as a Driver
If you are planning to go out on the town or attend an event during the upcoming holiday season, you have a responsibility if you intend on having even one drink. Drinking and driving is so dangerous that you should not plan on getting behind the wheel of a car if you decide to drink.
- Choose a designated driver and get their commitment not to drink.
- Call a cab, ridesharing service, or use a program such as Sober Rides or Safe rides.
- Make arrangements to stay overnight someplace within walking distance of your event.
Your Responsibility as a Host
Many of us enjoy hosting friends, family, and work colleagues for a holiday celebration. However, there is a certain responsibility present when you decide to serve alcohol to guests. You should make every effort to discourage guests from overconsuming as well as driving away from your party in an impaired state.
- Serve a variety of filling foods, non-alcoholic beverages, and coffee.
- If you notice a guest who appears intoxicated, ask them how they plan to get home. If they don’t have a sober driver, find one for them.
- Print out a list of local taxi company phone numbers for your guests.
- If all else fails, take away your guest’s car keys and call them a cab. Ask others to help if you need assistance.
The Consequences of Impaired Driving
One bad decision can create a sobering list of consequences. Not only is impaired driving a dangerous and potentially deadly choice, but the legal ramifications of a DUI can be extensive. In Virginia, you can be arrested and convicted of DUI if your BAC is over .08% or if there is other evidence showing that you were driving while impaired. Penalties for DUI in Virginia include license revocation, fines, and possible jail time.
The good news is that the Commonwealth must prove its case before you can be convicted of DUI. If you have been arrested for DUI in Central Virginia’s Roanoke, Lynchburg, or Bedford counties, contact Pack Law Group now at 540-586-7225 or online to discuss the details of your case with an experienced and qualified Virginia DUI