Because of drunk driving, every half an hour someone dies in a car crash. In recent years, an average of 13,000 people have died in drunk driving related car crashes annually. The Fourth of July tends to have the highest number of traffic fatalities, but New Year’s Eve sees the highest increase in drunk driving related fatalities. According to the New York Times blog, Wheels, usually half of the fatal crashes on New Year’s Eve are related to drunk driving, most of which occur after midnight. While you cannot stop other drivers from drinking and driving, there are ways you can help protect yourself and your friends, should you choose to drive somewhere this New Years.
Hosting a party?
Serve nonalcoholic drinks
Obviously the easiest way to know your guests won’t drive under the influence is to limit their access to alcohol. However, many of your guests may expect, want, or bring their own. It still doesn’t hurt to offer nonalcoholic drinks to designated drivers and to those who simply don’t wish to drink.
Ask about plans for a designated driver
While it may sound nosy, making sure your guests pick a designated driver may help you decide if you need to confiscate keys or let someone pass out on your couch. Empathize that you’re asking for safety and most people will likely tell you what plans they made to stay safe.
Offer alternative transportation
Uber and Lyft both offer an amazing service that allows hosts to “gift” a taxi ride to an intoxicated friend. Consider offering this to a friend who cannot drive safely.
Give them a place to crash
Your friend may drive drunk if he or she doesn’t realize your place is open. If you feel like a friend cannot safely drive home, offer your couch. It may inconvenience you or your friend, but it could save a life.
Confiscate keys at the door
When your guests arrive, take the driver’s key or request they be placed in a locked room with purses and coats. That way you can be sure no one leaves your house unsafe to drive.
If you are headed out to a party, it’s important to be responsible and avoid drinking and driving. Not only do you risk your life, you risk the lives of those around you (or around your car). In fact, it is estimated that two of out every three Americans will be involved in an alcohol related car accident.
You may think you can drive while intoxicated, but, no matter how much you regularly drink, alcohol always affects your depth perception and information-processing (psychomotor) skills. Since alcohol is a depressant, it will slow down your central nervous system’s functions, which delays your brain’s ability to assess and respond. Basically, it reduces your reaction time.
Every state has a different legal limit, but driving with a BAC (Blood Alcohol content) above .08% is extremely dangerous. In fact, a driver’s judgment is considered intoxicated if he or she has a BAC of just .05%, sometimes even lower. That’s why, if you plan on drinking over New Years, you should have a safety plan in place.
Have a designated driver
Always a wise choice, have someone in your group stay sober. Make sure you pick someone who is responsible and can get everyone home safely.
Take a taxi
It may cost a bit more, but that’s nothing compared to the cost of a life, for what could equal the value of a human soul? If you’re feeling a little woozy or are afraid your judgment might be impaired, call a taxi and make sure you get home safely.
If you aren’t confident in your driving skills–confident enough to bet your life on your ability to drive–then ask your friend if you can crash on his (or her) couch for the night.
Give your keys to the host
If you’re afraid you might get too drunk to drive safely, ask the party’s host if he (or she) can keep hold of your keys unless he (or she) believes you are sober enough to drive home.
DUI or DWI
A DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) can earn you jail time, a license suspension, and large fees. Driving while drunk could cause a car accident, which may increase your insurance. It could also kill someone, which can result in vehicle-manslaughter charges, a second degree murder charge. Driving drunk is not worth these risks. You may have the mentality that you won’t “get caught” driving drunk, but it’s not about getting caught. It’s about protecting your life, your passengers’ lives, and the lives of those sharing the road with you.
How much is too much?
Frequent drinkers believe they can “handle” their liquor. But, the truth is, most metabolisms need a full hour to properly digest a glass of alcohol. A standard “glass” is usually classified as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. If you drink more than this in an hour, you should wait before getting behind the wheel.
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