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Holidays and Drunk Driving

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The Thanksgiving holiday weekend serves as the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season, but it also marks the beginning of a far more dangerous season: DUI season. The holiday season takes many of us out of our usual routine, with holiday events and parties throughout the season and get-togethers with family and friends. Consumption of alcohol is often part of these events, and the corresponding rise in alcohol-related driving deaths is hard to ignore.

While there really isn't a "season" for DUIs like there is for hunting or sports, there is a marked increase in intoxicated driving during the six-week period between Thanksgiving and New Years. More than half of fatal crashes - 52% on Christmas and 57% on New Years - are the result of drinking and driving, a significant increase compared to 41% for the entire year. In Vanderburgh County, 61 people per 10,000 are arrested for DUI every year, and 3 out of every 10,000 die as a result of DUI.

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend serves as the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season, but it also marks the beginning of a far more dangerous season: DUI season. The holiday season takes many of us out of our usual routine, with holiday events and parties throughout the season and get-togethers with family and friends. Consumption of alcohol is often part of these events, and the corresponding rise in alcohol-related driving deaths is hard to ignore.

While there really isn't a "season" for DUIs like there is for hunting or sports, there is a marked increase in intoxicated driving during the six-week period between Thanksgiving and New Years. More than half of fatal crashes - 52% on Christmas and 57% on New Years - are the result of drinking and driving, a significant increase compared to 41% for the entire year. In Vanderburgh County, 61 people per 10,000 are arrested for DUI every year, and 3 out of every 10,000 die as a result of DUI.

How Alcohol Affects You

You probably already know that the limit for Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) in Indiana is .08% - but just how many drinks does it take to get there?

Based on the number of drinks consumed by a 160-pound man in one hour, this is how BAC breaks out:

  • Two drinks = BAC .02%
  • Three drinks = BAC .05%
  • Four drinks = BAC .08%
  • Five drinks = BAC .10%
  • Seven drinks = BAC .15% (the equivalent of ½-pint of whiskey circulating in the bloodstream)

Beginning with a BAC of .20%, serious physical consequences begin to accumulate. This is the point at which some people begin to experience blackouts. A BAC of .40% or higher can bring death.

These figures are guidelines, however. While on average a person metabolizes alcohol at a rate of one drink per hour, it's important to note that BAC is affected by many factors and will differ from person to person based on those factors. Body weight, gender, acquired tolerance, food consumption, medication use, and rate of consumption will affect BAC and produce different results in different people. Regardless of how many drinks you consume, however, .08% BAC is the legal limit in the state of Indiana, and absolutely no one under the age of 21 should have a BAC at all.

An Ounce of Prevention

The facts are chilling: the average drunk driver has driven under the influence 80 times before their first arrest. Your encounter with an intoxicated driver might actually be their first contact with law enforcement.

Keeping drunk drivers off the road is an effort in which we all share responsibility. This includes being aware of our own limitations as well as taking precautions designed to protect ourselves and those around us. The organization Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) has, in its 35-year existence, been able to reduce the number of drunk driving deaths by half. At the core of their mission is this simple concept: if you drive, don't drink; if you drink, don't drive.

If you have to be out and about during the holiday season, be aware that a large portion of accidents involving an impaired driver occur during the overnight hours of 9pm to 6am, with the highest percentage of fatalities occurring from midnight to 3am. Be smart and be proactive to protect yourself; designate a driver if you plan on drinking, and don't ride with someone who has been drinking.

Don't Be a Statistic

Many people allow the holidays to become an excuse for poor decisions and must live with the consequences for years to come. The decision to drive while under the influence can affect more than just the person getting behind the wheel.

Accidents caused by intoxicated drivers disrupt lives, destroy families, and forever alter the futures of thousands of people every year. If you or a loved one have crossed paths with a drunk driver, you know firsthand how devastating the experience can be. Victims of drunk drivers have legal rights that must be preserved - contact an attorney experienced in personal injury cases involving alcohol to review the facts of your case.

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