The holidays are just around the corner. From Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, many people look forward to celebrations with family and friends, holiday work parties, and of course, drinking. If you think this won't have any impact on road safety, think again.
In 2017, Alabama was ranked as having the fifth-highest number of traffic fatalities caused by drunk driving — with some estimates calculating the death rate at 5.49 fatalities per 100,000 statewide residents. During the same year, Alabama law enforcement agencies counted only five days during the holiday travel period (mid-December to New Year's Day) when no traffic fatalities occurred.
Do people really drink and drive that much more during the holidays?
According to several national sources, people tend to consume more alcohol from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day than most other times of the year. An infographic released by SCRAM Systems cites data from the Harris Interactive Survey for Caron Treatment Centers regarding the prevalence of drinking during the holiday season.
Roughly 16 percent of adults say they consume alcohol more than usual during the holidays. In addition:
- Half of the survey respondents said that alcohol played a role in family celebrations.
- For those who attended celebrations, 96 percent reported going to work hungover the following day, or know someone who did.
- For those who have attended holiday work parties, 22 percent said they felt pressured to drink.
How likely am I to be involved in a crash with a drunk driver during the holidays?
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility says that 70 percent of drunk driving deaths that occur during the holiday season involve a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.15 percent or more. Between the three major holidays:
- 34 percent of DUI-related fatalities occur on Thanksgiving
- 32 percent occur on Christmas
- 36 percent occur on New Year's
Data from other national agencies such as the NHTSA, USDOT, NIAAA, AAA, and the CDC conclude:
- 1 in 8 drivers admit that they have gotten behind the wheel with a BAC level they believed was near or over 0.08 percent
- Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day about 25,000 injuries are sustained across the U.S. due to DUI-related crashes.
- In 2017, 885 DUI-fatalities occurred in the month of December
- In 2016, that number was 781
- More than one-third of all December DUI-related fatalities occur between Christmas and New Year's Day
How much do I have to drink to be considered too drunk to drive?
In most states, it's illegal to drive with a BAC level of 0.08 or more. However, impairment can start as soon as someone has a drink, even if it's perfectly legal to drive.
Drivers with a BAC level between 0.02-0.04 percent may feel more relaxed than usual. In most cases, this may not cause any problems behind the wheel. If a driver habitually engages in other risky behavior, however, like texting and driving, speeding, or reckless driving, a lack of sleep, or a small amount of alcohol consumption, can contribute to the likelihood of a crash.
When drivers reach a legal BAC level between 0.05-0.07 percent, they may experience some loss of control, depth perception, attention, and judgment. At a BAC level of 0.08 or higher, impairment becomes more profound and noticeable. In some cases, drivers are at risk of losing consciousness.
What other options are available for those who plan to drink?
If you know that you will be attending an upcoming family gathering, work holiday party, or any other celebration where you're certain you'll consume alcohol, it's best to plan ahead.
Here are some safer alternatives to consider:
- If you consume alcohol at a family gathering, ask if you can spend the night.
- Use a rideshare app to drive you to and from your celebration.
- Have a designated driver bring you home and get your car the following day.
- If a celebrating is within walking distance, consider getting home on foot.
Drivers should never take the chance of being involved in a crash after drinking, even those who feel confident in their ability to drive a car while buzzed or drunk.
Law enforcement will be out in full force this holiday season working to keep drunk drivers off the road. Sadly, many alcohol-impaired drivers will go unnoticed and still put lives at risk.
That's why if you were hurt in a crash, or have lost a loved one, due to a drunk driver, you need to take legal action as soon as possible. The legal team at Mike Slocumb Law Firm has built a reputation for holding drunk drivers accountable when their actions result in someone's injury or death. We'll aggressively investigate your crash and fight to maximize your compensation.
To schedule your free case evaluation with one of our attorneys, contact us online today. Our law offices are based in Alabama, the District of Columbia, Baltimore, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Denver.