Avoiding DUI’s for the Holiday

What is driving under the influence? 

According to the CDC, driving under the influence is when someone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher gets behind the wheel. When the state considers a person or driver impaired, it means that operating heavy machinery or driving is against the law. One in three traffic deaths are caused by a drunk driver in the United States. 

Why does it matter? 

When drivers ignore this law, people are at risk both in and outside of the car. There is nothing more depressing than seeing how many people make this mistake during the holiday season. People drink to the new year and try to celebrate in a variety of ways, but no one should get behind the wheel if they are drinking. 

The statistics of driving under the influence

In 2017, 34,000 people died due to vehicle crashes. For New Year’s Day 2020, the National Safety Council estimates that at least 163 people will die on U.S. roads. These will be people traveling with families, children, and friends starting from December 31st at 11:59 to January 1st. Many people will be making reckless decisions and driving while under the influence.

How do we prevent this?

Some states are trying to take precautions this year, like the New Jersey Police Department. They have allocated $600,000 to cover checkpoints and overtime for the policeman who will be out all night trying to stop drunk driving. In the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, New Jersey works to help reduce the number of drink drivers by bringing awareness to the public. New Jersey’s total motor vehicle deaths contained 20% of them as drunk driving accidents

Campaigns like these may seem annoying to some, but they are so essential to help reduce the number of drunk drivers that terrorize the streets. Without thinking about the consequences, drivers under the influence can hurt more than just themselves. They can hurt anyone around them both literally and metaphorically. 

What happens if I get a DUI? 

For people driving under the influence, the consequences tend to be high. The state of New Jersey has a three-offense system for those who get caught and receive a DUI. 

Each step includes a fine that increases as you gain more offenses. People may experience jail time, and the sentence depends on the offense ranging from 30 days to 180 days. The next part of the offense is license suspension. Its something that people do not realize until after they receive their DUI, but they will not be able to drive. They can get arrested for driving with a suspended license. Another step in New Jersey’s program is attending an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. This step helps drivers learn and educate about driving under the influence. The next thing that happens for all three offenses is an insurance adjuster. People with DUI’s will have increased insurance at a minimum of $1,000.  

New Jersey law includes the above steps for all levels of offenses. However, as you get further into the DUI offenses, more parts have been added. Community service adds on to the 2nd offense and includes cleaning up trash on the side of freeways. The next possibility that people experience is an ignition interlock device, and these can stay in your car for up to 3 years. 

The ignition interlock device is an exciting piece of equipment that basically will require you to take a breathalyzer test every time you want to start your car. You would not be able to drive your vehicle while under the influence, even if you wanted to. It helps prevent people who can not control themselves from getting behind the wheel of a deadly weapon. 

With all these repercussions in place, why do we then still have drunk drivers? 

This main reason is due to addiction. Some people may not even realize that they are under control. Drinking or using illegal substances may be a constant for them. For these people, it is crucial that they seek help or have loved ones help them realize that they have a problem. 

How do I prevent myself from getting a DUI?

No one wants to deal with the consequences of a DUI. On a personal level, it can be expensive and lead to you being in jail. However, it can also lead to a traumatic experience depending on what happened. DUI’s usually occur at checkpoints or car accidents. Preferably people should be caught at checkpoints, but disappointingly many drivers under the influence appear during car accidents. No one should be drinking and driving. People’s education needs improvement to increase awareness. Anyone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher should not drive a car even if they are used to being at that level. This state can quickly happen during a holiday party. 

Just say No

It takes a lot of courage to say no to peer pressure during these gatherings, and some people may call you “boring” or “no fun,” but the joke is on them as you avoid getting a DUI. It is the season to have a good time, but also make new years resolutions. If you have received a DUI or think that every year it gets harder to resist the temptation of overindulging on alcohol, then perhaps it’s time to get help for yourself or your family member experiencing this hardship. 

There is nothing wrong with creating a New Years’ resolution to treat yourself better and squash any addictions or budding problems that may be growing. The holiday season can bring out both the best and worst in us. If you think you may have a problem with excessive drinking, find a treatment center that can work with you. Find tips and tricks that can help you overcome binge drinking or addiction during the holidays. There are a variety of resources that can help you find the best method this holiday season.

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About Michelle Hickethier
Michelle Hickethier is currently a Graduate Student at California State University Fullerton studying English.

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