Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over
It’s December, a time for joy and sharing special times with family and friends. Are you going out this time of year to celebrate? With all the holiday parties and festive occasions, many partygoers will be drinking. If you’re celebrating with alcohol this holiday season, here is a clear message for you: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Due to the increase in impaired-driving-related fatalities around the holidays each year, law enforcement agencies across America will be out in force December 12-January 1, 2015—actively searching for impaired drivers.
In December 2012, there were 830 people killed in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher; 26 of those deaths occurred on Christmas Day. On average, a third (31%) of all crash fatalities in America involves impaired driving. But on Christmas Day 2012, the percentage jumps to 36 percent.
Impaired driving isn’t a victimless crime. You could kill yourself or someone else, or get a DUI and go to jail. It’s illegal in every state to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, and it might not take as much alcohol as you think to get there. So the safest approach is to only drive sober. If you plan on drinking at a holiday party, bar, or restaurant, let someone else do the driving – a sober friend, a taxi or public transportation. Many cities now have a special program such as the SoberRide Taxi Service in the Washington DC area.
Impaired Driving Kills
Every year, impaired drivers in America kill more than 10,322 people. So as part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign period, police will be increasing their number of patrols, setting up roadblocks, and using local media to reach all drivers. If you’re drinking and driving, police will find and arrest you. No warnings, no excuses. You’ll face jail time, fines, loss of your driver’s license, towing fees, and other DUI expenses, totaling $10,000 on average. Not to mention the humiliation among your family, friends, and workplace.
Some people think that if they get pulled over for driving impaired, they can just refuse a breath test to avoid the DUI charge. This is not true. In most jurisdictions, refusing a breath test means an automatic arrest, and loss of your driver’s license on the spot. Many jurisdictions also obtain a search warrant to still get a test result. The only way to truly avoid a DUI is to drive sober. There are many ways to get home safely after drinking, and driving isn’t one of them. Designate a sober driver ahead of time, or call a friend or family member. You could also use public transportation, or call a taxi. The cost of cab fare is nothing compared to a $10,000 DUI or the cost of someone’s life, and the ‘inconvenience’ of not driving your own car home is nothing compared to the inconvenience of spending the holidays behind bars.
You Can Save A Life
In addition to reminding all drivers to drive sober, everyone needs to stay alert. If you see an impaired driver on the road, call the police right away—you could save a life. If someone you know is about to drive after drinking, take his keys and help him get home safely.
Some startling data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that during the holiday season in 2012, 40 percent of the impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least one prior DUI on their record. And many offenders are young drivers: during that same holiday period 37 percent of the 21- to 24-year old drivers in fatal crashes were impaired. Surprisingly, almost 1 out of 6 drivers under the age of 21 in those fatal crashes were also impaired, even though they’re too young to legally buy or consume alcohol.
Make a Plan
So next time you’re going to drink, do everyone – including yourself – a favor and make a plan. Some simple ideas include:
- Leave your keys at home or give them to a friend;
- Designate a sober driver who isn’t drinking at all;
- Tell others your intentions about driving and stick to the plan;
- Most importantly, once you’ve had anything to drink, do not drive.
Remember, it is never safe to drink and drive: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
What are your plans for a safe and sober holiday? Let me know in the comments below.