It’s a safe bet that the holiday that rings in the new year also rings up a lot of alcohol-related driving deaths. Not that far behind New Year’s Eve in accident tallies are Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shares this dark holiday nugget: Every year during the few days around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, an average of 300 people die in alcohol-related crashes in the United States.
Drinking and Driving – The Usual Suspects
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data on alcohol-related fatal crashes in 2014 show that men are about three times as likely as women to be the culprit.
DrunkDrivingStats.Org notes that men chalked up 80 percent of the nation’s DUI incidents in 2010. The website also states that 21- to 34-year-olds were the highest-risk group, making up only 11 percent of the adult population but accounting for 32 percent of DUIs in 2010.
And when it comes to underage drinking, this tweet from MADD says it all:
Drinking and Driving – By the Numbers
There is no safe level of alcohol consumption when it comes to driving home from a holiday party. Different people react differently to alcohol, but Florida law deems a driver impaired if the blood-alcohol level is 0.08 or greater.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following expectations for the effects on driving skills at various blood-alcohol levels. (The calculations presume the subject is a 160-pound man and that a drink is the equivalent of one 12-ounce beer.)
In Florida, people 21 or older enter DUI territory at 0.08. People younger than 21 can get a DUI citation at 0.02 or higher.
Preventing Impaired Driving During the Holidays
The No. 1 rule of drinking and driving, in a word, is “don’t.”
If you plan to celebrate the holidays with good cheer that comes in a bottle, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a few tips:
- Make plans to get home ahead of time.
- Have a designated driver who will not drink.
- Call a taxi or some other form of public/private transportation. (There’s an app for that. A lot of them, actually, including a free one from NHTSA called SaferRide that is available at the iTunes store or through Google Play.)
If you host a party and serve alcohol, there are a number of ways to help guests who are at risk of driving under the influence:
- Serve food and offer alcohol-free beverages.
- Be ready to offer inebriated guests a place to sleep.
- Have contact numbers for taxi or ride-hailing services.
- Have a designated server or bartender who can monitor what people consume and know who might have a problem.
- Be ready to step in if an intoxicated guest is determined to drive.
If you have to talk an intoxicated guest out of driving, these tips from MADD might be helpful:
- Don’t be confrontational. Speak more slowly and explain things more thoroughly than you would for a sober person.
- Suggest alternate ways for them to get home.
- Make it clear that not driving is for their own good and for that of anyone accompanying them.
- Have someone help you make your case. It’s harder to say no to two or three people.
- Get the person’s car keys. Having them gives you leverage.
A host’s responsibility doesn’t always end when an intoxicated person leaves. Under Florida law, a person at a private party or bar who “willfully and unlawfully” provides alcohol to an underage person or a person “habitually addicted” to alcohol can be held liable if injuries occur.
Holiday Drinking and Driving Statistics
The holiday surge in drinking and driving is in addition to what the CDC warns about in this startling clump of data: “Every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 53 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.”
The statistics for Florida are even less sunny. In 2012, the number of alcohol-related crash deaths per 100,000 people was 3.3 nationally, according to the CDC. That isn’t a good number, but it beats the 3.7 deaths per 100,000 people that Florida racked up.
Other stunning drinking-and-driving numbers from the CDC underscore the fact that a holiday surge in DUI disasters is the last thing this nation needs:
Wishing You a Safe and Happy Holiday Season
The family-oriented attorneys at Chiumento Selis Dwyer P.L. have been representing the people of Flagler and Volusia counties for more than 40 years. We have seen the damage done by irresponsible drivers, and we are committed to protecting the rights of victims. The people we serve aren’t just clients ─ they are our friends and neighbors ─ which makes the battle for compensation a personal fight.