Do you drive a car or truck during the holiday season?
Are you planning on celebrating the holiday season with alcohol?
This article is about making sure that you take the time to plan ahead to save your life and the lives of others, and not drink and drive.
Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving
In many parts of the world, the month of December is a time to celebrate the holiday season; between Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve, it is a virtual cornucopia of festivities. For some people, these festivities mean celebrating with family and friends, which at times includes alcohol—and that is when it can get deadly.
As a former assistant prosecutor, I handled hundreds of impaired driving cases where the defendant was heading home from the office party or a friend’s celebration and had had too much to drink. The excuses are legendary, the results memorable: a night (or more) in jail, appearing in court, hiring an attorney, paying the court costs, and higher insurance premiums. But that is for the lucky one, someone who did not kill himself or herself or another person.
In the United States, 760 people lost their lives from impaired driving during December of 2011, with a total of 4,169 in the December months from 2007 to 2011. While impaired driving happens all year ‘round, the holiday season is a particularly dangerous time. Because of these devastating facts, law enforcement will be out in force cracking down on drunk drivers from December 13, 2013 through January 1, 2014.
Law enforcement’s messages of ‘Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving’ and ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ during this holiday season are resounding declarations that both social drinkers and alcoholics try to drive home after drinking—and neither will be tolerated.
Planning to Fail
Everyone has heard that drinking and driving don’t mix, or ‘Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk.’ Yet, impaired driving continues to happen. No one who drinks and then drives plans on killing someone else. Yet the fatalities from impaired driving continue. People make plans for the evenings’ festivities, but apparently they do not plan for after the celebration. Benjamin Franklin said: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Unfortunately in this situation, ‘planning to fail’ can have critical consequences.
Granted, people routinely think: ‘I only had a couple of drinks, I’ll be fine;’ or ‘It’s just a short trip home.’ We continue to make excuses to justify planning to fail. The heartbreaking part of this failure is that it doesn’t take a significant amount of effort to make plans for safety—and the failure to plan can and does have deadly consequences all too often.
Planning to Succeed
Even one drink can impair your judgment and increase the risk of getting arrested for impaired driving, or worse, killing someone. That is why it is important to make plans before heading out for the evening. Easy plans include:
- Designating a sober driver before the party begins
- Planning to call a taxi or using public transportation
- Making plans to stay where you are drinking
If hosting a party, stop serving alcohol as the evening wears on, and be responsible—don’t let your friend(s) drive after drinking.
One option that more communities are developing is free cab rides home. Called SoberRide in the Washington, DC area, the program is typically funded through sponsors and donations, and works with local cab companies to provide impaired adults (over the age of 21) cab rides home. In many locations the ride is free. WRAP (Washington Regional Alcohol Program) organizes the DC SoberRide program and since 1993, WRAP has provided over 58,000 safe rides home. That means 58,000 impaired individuals didn’t drive and they arrived home safe. It means lives saved and injuries prevented. Similar programs can be found across the U.S. To see a list of programs, click here.
Celebrate the Holiday Season Safely
It is the holiday season, a time to celebrate with family and friends. It is not a time to stop thinking. It is not a time to drink and drive. Take the time to plan ahead. Decide where you want to go with your family or friends. Choose which celebrations you will attend. Then make plans on how you will get home safely. It is the holiday season—a time to make plans to be safe, for one and all.
What plans have you made for a safe holiday season? Let me know in the comments below.