In 2016, law enforcement professionals arrested over one million Americans for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or other illegal substances. It's no secret that a large portion of DUIs occur over the holiday season, especially around Christmas and New Year's Eve. As we move into the holiday season, understanding how to deal with drunk drivers and prevent yourself from receiving a DUI can help you enjoy the festivities more.
At Jason K.S. Porter, P.A., we help DUI victims get the compensation they deserve.
What Are the Most Dangerous Holidays for DUI?
More DUI arrests are made between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve than at any other time of the year. Thanksgiving and the period around it tends to see higher traffic than any other time of year as people travel to see their families. With that increased traffic comes an increased chance of DUIs when people go out to drink, as well an increased chance for drunk drivers to get into accidents since more people are on the roads.
However, Christmas and New Year's Eve are even more dangerous than Thanksgiving—New Year's especially. It's not uncommon to see law enforcement agencies across the country set up checkpoints during the holidays to try ad cut down the number of DUI arrests and fatalities over the holidays.
There are several reasons why the holidays are so dangerous for drivers:
- People are going out more. People often take time off of work and go visit their family during the holidays. When that happens, people tend to go out more, visiting restaurants and parties regularly. Many people drink during the festivities, increasing the likelihood of drunk drivers showing up on the roads.
- Young adults have breaks. For high schoolers and college students, the holidays are a perfect opportunity to attend parties and drink. They don't have to worry about school, and many are celebrating the end of the semester. Young adults may be less aware of their alcohol tolerance levels and less capable of making rational decisions when intoxicated, which can increase the number of teens and young adults who drive drunk.
- Driving conditions are bad. Last but not least, the holidays coincide with icy roads and snowstorms for much of the US. When the average New Year's Eve or Christmas party wraps up, it's probably late and night, and most of the attendees are tired. Add alcohol or other substances into the mix, and you've got the perfect combination for increasing the number of drunk drivers on the road.
At this point, you may wonder what you can do to stay safe during the holidays. How to best protect yourself and your loved ones against drunk drivers largely depends on whether you choose to host a holiday event or party at your place or decide to go out for the holidays.
Staying Safe Over the Holidays as a Host
If you choose to host the festivities at your place, here are some measures you should take in advance:
- Set aside a place for tired or intoxicated guests to sleep. It doesn't matter if it's on your floor, people who aren't in a condition to drive should have a place to crash until they can sober up or get the energy they need to make it home safely.
- Ask every guest to either bring a designated driver (DD) with them or refuse to partake in alcohol over a reasonable limit. If you're planning on hosting a four-hour party, your guests may be able to handle a beer as long as they eat food and watch their intake. But you should require guests to either have a sober friend who can get them home safely, or make sure they're sober by the time they leave.
- Collect keys at the door. The safest way to ensure your guests don't leave while intoxicated is to collect keys at the door. Make sure you screen guests before they leave, and you give them their keys to make sure they can travel home safely.
- Accommodate guests who don't drink. Having a variety of non-alcoholic beverages available will help DDs feel more comfortable and encourage guests to limit their intake.
- Accommodate guests who do drink. Encouraging people to eat food as they drink and pace themselves can help ensure everyone stays safe.
Staying Safe Over the Holidays as a Guest
If you decide to go to a party over the holidays, staying safe may be a bit more difficult. Some precautions you should take include:
- Bring a DD with you. Obviously, if you plan to drive home the same night of the party and plan on drinking, you need to have a sober friend with you who can drive. When you show up at the party, give the DD your keys so they can manage the transportation.
- Use an Uber or a Taxi. If you can't find a DD, use an Uber or a Taxi to get to the event. Paying a driver $40 to go to a party is a lot less expensive than paying thousands for a DUI case.
- Realize you may have to leave your car behind. If your DD ends up drinking or something goes wrong, leaving your car at a venue or house and picking it up in the morning when you're sober is your best bet. Again, paying for a parking ticket is less expensive than shelling out money for a DUI case.
- Make a plan b. If you're visiting a friend's house, ask them if you can crash there if you're too tired or drunk to drive. If you're going to a venue, see if you can find lodging near it. Having a safe place to crash, you can easily walk to can save you time and stress.
- Watch out for other drivers. If you're driving over the holidays, pay more attention to other drivers if you normally would. If you see someone speeding up and slowing down erratically or swerving, pull over and wait for them to get far away from you before continuing. You should also keep an eye on oncoming traffic—intoxicated drivers can sometimes cross barriers or try and drive against the flow of traffic.
If you do become involved in a DUI case over the holidays, having an experienced DUI lawyer by your side is essential. At Jason K.S. Porter, P.A., we can help you navigate your DUI case and pursue the best outcome in your legal dispute.
To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (904) 701-0591.