If you plan on drinking to celebrate the New Year, always have a designated driver or another safe and reliable way to get home. In the United States, almost 30 people die every day in crashes that involve a driver impaired by alcohol. That’s at least one death an hour. There are over 100 million self-reported instances of alcohol-impaired driving every year, and over a million drivers are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. A third of all fatal car crashes involve an intoxicated person. Most incidents involved alcohol, but other drugs are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle deaths. The cost of these crashes reaches into the tens of billions each year.
What constitutes drunk driving is standard across the country. Every state in the U.S. has adopted .08% BAC (blood alcohol concentration) as the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle for adults 21 and over. If you’re under 21, you are not allowed to drive with any level of alcohol in your system.
What can you do to reduce the risk of drunk driving?
Never plan on your ability to make wise decisions when intoxicated. That’s why it’s best to plan ahead to remove any chance of driving with a BAC. Let’s take a look at a few safe and easy options to prevent drunk driving and plan ahead.
Find your designated driver. Designate a driver who will not drink before you go out. Never assume that someone will volunteer, and make sure that you don’t put all the responsibility on the same person every time. If you feel guilty, offer to buy their dinner or to pay for gas. If you’re going out by yourself or don’t have a ride home, then prearrange a ride before hand. Set an alarm on your phone to call a friend or hire a ride home.
Hold each other accountable. When you do go out with friends, coworkers, or family, make a plan with friends to hold each other accountable. Encourage each other to drink water in between alcoholic beverages. If they’ve been drinking, take their keys away from them. Call a cab or offer to give them a ride to pick their car up in the morning.
Be a responsible host. If you’re hosting your own gathering, offer nonalcoholic beverages and make sure everyone has a safe ride home. Monitor your own drinking to ensure that you help guests make safe choices. By being responsible, you can model that you don’t have to drink excessively or at all to have a good time.
Plan alcohol-free activities. Plan activities with friends and family that don’t always involve drinking. Whether it’s being active, enjoying good conversation, exploring a new place, or visiting your favorite spot, you don’t need alcohol to make the evening a memorable one. You’ll save money, you’ll feel energized the next day, and you’ll be sure to make it home safely.
5 Biggest DUI Penalties
- Fines: Fines vary by state but can be very expensive. Keep in mind that the minimum fine you are charged is only part of the picture.
- Ignition Interlock: An ignition interlock is a device installed in a car's ignition that requires the driver to blow into it. If the ignition interlock detects alcohol, the car won't start. Fifteen states, including New York, Virginia and Washington, require drivers to install ignition interlocks for any DUI offense.
- Losing Your Car: States typically won't confiscate your vehicle after a first offense. Twenty-six states, including, California, Florida, Massachusetts and Texas, may seize your vehicle if you are a repeat offender. If your car does get confiscated however, there are things to consider such as towing, storage and administration fees.
- License Suspension: Forty-two states will suspend your license if you fail a breathalyzer test. For most states, this suspension ranges from one week to 6 months. Aside from the fine you pay for the DUI charge, losing your license can be costly as you may need to arrange alternative transportation for getting around. Also, most states charge a license reinstatement fee.
- Skyrocketing Insurance Premiums: If you're convicted of a DUI, your auto insurance rates are likely to skyrocket. Also, if you're convicted of a DUI, your auto insurer may drop your coverage, or simply not renew your policy when that time of year rolls around. And when you shop around for a new policy, you will likely be considered a high-risk driver. You will have to get an FR-44 or SR-22 insurance. Your insurance agents at S.E. Benchmark can help you.
Please don't drink and drive and always plan ahead. Be safe.