● By Wendy Sipple
As the holidays approach, co-workers, friends and family all look forward to a little collective revelry.
From office parties to lively dinner gatherings to New Year’s toasts, there’s plenty to celebrate during this exciting season. Sadly, some of these joyous occasions will likely lead to incidences of drunk driving, and consequently, the potential for DUI violations and tragic traffic accidents. According to statistics from Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD), in 2008, an estimated 11,773 people died in alcohol-impaired traffic crashes. In fact, it’s estimated that three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lives. Living in a California car culture only increases that risk. While you can’t predict the habits of other motorists hitting the roads, you can calculate yours, making responsible choices for yourself and those traveling with you.
Here are a few tips to stay safe on the go and still enjoy your festive holiday plans.
1. Always choose a designated driver. This may seem like an obvious decision, but quite often, the idea occurs as an unfortunate afterthought. And, choosing the person who has had the fewest drinks does not provide a safe solution. It’s important to have the discussion before the fun begins. Make the conscious choice to put the car keys in the hands of a sober friend and be sure to return the favor on the next occasion.
2. “Buzzed” driving is NOT sober driving. Even if you’ve had only one drink but still feel even slightly intoxicated, getting in the car with a “buzz” should be avoided. If you’re over the .08% BAC legal limit, you put other drivers at risk and could get pulled over for a DUI. “Buzzed” usually means too impaired to drive - so don’t get behind the wheel.
3. Be a conscientious host. If you plan to have people over to your home, be aware of your guests’ condition before bidding them goodbye. One option is to gather everyone’s car keys as they enter the party, turning them over to sober drivers at the end of the evening. Or check in with guests as they are leaving and pair up sober drivers with friends who have been drinking. Have a cab company’s info available as well. I’ve even seen a host pass out the info as part of a party favor.
4. Call a driver. If you’ve been drinking and have no reliable ride available to you, don’t hesitate to call a cab or special pick-up service. Even if it costs you some cash, you can’t put a price on your safety