Drunk Driving Accidents During the Holidays

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As an accident injury attorney, we know how car accidents spike during the holiday season. It’s obvious that the odds of a car accident increase when there are more cars than usual. Any personal injury accident attorney would say that when the number of drivers impaired by alcohol increases the odds soar.  And so it follows that when the holiday season rolls around, there are more drunk drivers on the road than usual.

Alcohol significantly impairs the ability to drive safely. It lowers alertness, slows reaction time, and clouds judgment. In 2010, more than 10,000 people died in drunk-driving crashes, according to the (NHTSA), arithmetically one fatality every 51 minutes. Personal injury drunk-driving accidents in San Diego, Oceanside, Escondido, Riverside, and Temecula tend to increase during certain times. The five most dangerous holidays on the road are New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.

Most Dangerous Holidays

The summer season usually has the best weather and driving conditions, dry roads, clear visibility, and long daylight hours, but other factors can offset them. The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, summer vacation for most students, has been the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers. Among the 100 deadliest days the Fourth of July holiday is the deadliest. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) studied deaths from auto accidents from 2005 to 2009 and ranked July 4 as the deadliest day of the year with 144 automotive fatalities on average, nearly 10 percent of them teens. A major reason is underage drinking.

During the year-end holidays, the number of travelers on the roads peaks as family and friends get together to celebrate in holiday parties and gatherings at which many drivers drink too much. The most traveled holiday period is Thanksgiving weekend, when driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI) arrests are at their highest between Thanksgiving Day and the end of New Year’s weekend. Thanksgiving Eve is like a Black Wednesday, maybe the busiest night of the year for bars. Social binge drinking is common at this time of year, says one DUI accident lawyer.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 40 percent of traffic deaths between Christmas and New Year’s Day involve drunk drivers, 12 percent more than in the rest of December. According to the NHTSA, 2,597 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in December 2010. Predictably, the danger is higher than average during other holiday periods, too. The NHTSA says during the 2010 Labor Day weekend 147 people in the USA died in drunk driving accidents, 36 percent of all highway fatalities during that period.

Preventing Drunk Driving

The IIHS believes that the way to stop drunk driving is by deterrence, that drivers are less likely to drink if they think they’ll get caught. Sustained publicity and enforcement campaigns impress on DUI violators the fact that they can’t get away with it. Enforcement by administrative license suspension allows police in most states to confiscate on the spot the license of any driver who fails or refuses a test for blood alcohol content. Sobriety checkpoints are good deterrents if visible and publicized. The minimum legal age of 21 for purchasing alcohol has reduced drunk driving among teenagers. Alcohol interlocks should be required for drivers with DUI convictions, says the IIHS, as they are less likely to offend again when they have interlocks.

Those who decide to drink during the holidays should pace themselves, the NIAAA recommends, with no more than one drink per hour and every other drink nonalcoholic. They should designate a driver who has had nothing alcoholic to drink, not just whoever who has had the least to drink, to get everyone home safely.

Those who defy and fight the law and get caught should consult as soon as possible with an experienced DUI accident lawyer for a methodical assessment and advice on how to proceed for the best possible result. State authorities are in crackdown mode on DUI cases, particularly those that cause personal injury or property damage. Penalties are harsh, loss of driving privileges are common, and jail time is not unusual. In such perilous circumstances, there is no substitute for the advice, advocacy, and other vital services of a skilled, experienced DUI accident lawyer.

How Our Firm Can Help

If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, you should contact our auto accident law firm as soon as possible. We offer free consultations where you can speak with an attorney and find out what your legal options are.  All information is kept confidential. Don’t let the insurance companies take advantage of you.

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