How can I be safe on the roads when other drivers have been drinking?
You can’t control what others do, such as drinking and driving, but you can control what you do. Certainly if you’re going to a party without a designated driver, rethink the plan to have a coffee or choose not to drink. Nothing is worth the risk of getting pulled over and getting a DWI on your record, or perhaps causing an accident. Because this is the season where people have a lot of parties, and the drinking and driving rate is higher, the police are out in force and more diligent than ever.
That is why the period from December has been designated “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in conjunction with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) because about 10,000 people a year die on U.S. roads from drunk drivers. According to MADD, “In 2013, 10,076 people were killed and approximately 290,000 were injured [from drunk drivers]. Each crash, each death, each injury impacts not only the person in the crash, but family, friends, classmates, coworkers and more. Even those who have not been directly touched help pay the $132 billion yearly price tag of drunk driving.”
Another way you can help to protect your safety and others during the holiday season is to prevent others from drinking and driving. Encourage others to take a cab, leave their car to get the next day. By doing this, we have the opportunity to prevent an accident, or even a death. If accident rates were controlled, insurance costs would potentially stabilize or decrease. The more accidents, the more insurance rates rise.
The legal blood alcohol limit is determined according to your weight and number of drinks. In Massachusetts, the laws are strict for the first offense of driving under the influence and penalties are as follows:
• Up to 30 months in jail
• Fine of $500-$5000
• License suspended for one year
• The look back period is a lifetime, meaning if you have a second offense, the penalties and fines are much higher, no matter how long ago you had your first conviction.
In New Hampshire, the penalties are as follows for a first DUI offense:
• Minimum of 10 days in jail
• Fine of $500-$750
• License suspended for 9-18 months.
When going to a party or evening out where alcohol is served, please be aware of your limit, bring a designated driver or just enjoy the food and company. You may find that you have a more enjoyable evening that way! If you are going alone to a house party, check with your host to see if staying overnight is an option or if you can get a ride home if you plan to drink. The most enjoyable part of the holiday season is seeing friends and relatives, sharing special meals, enjoying holiday music and treats, and exchanging gifts. Alcohol doesn’t need to be part of the holiday celebration if you are responsible for driving.
All of us at Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion wish you a happy and safe holiday season. Stay safe.