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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is Also One of the Most Dangerous on the Road

I get it, I really do. It is the holiday season and there are parties and get-togethers all season long. From the company holiday party to opening gifts at the in-laws, merrymaking stretches from Thanksgiving Day until New Year’s Day. Nothing goes with the festivities better than a cup of our favorite Christmas Cheer. Sometimes another, and then another.

The unfortunate truth is that the holiday season is one of the most common times of the year for alcohol impaired drivers to hit the road. It is a numbers game. More merriment means more drinking. More travelers mean more people on the road. More shoppers in the parking lot mean more holiday traffic at all times of the day, even on the weekends when the work week is over.

Statistics tell the story. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, traffic deaths spike. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reported that alcohol related deaths spiked thirty percent in 2010 over the Thanksgiving holiday compared to the rest of the year. In fact, New Year’s Day is the single most deadly day for drivers to be on the road. According to research from SafeAuto, January 1st marked the highest percentage of alcohol related crash deaths from 2008 through 2012.

Know Your Limits

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers a driver impaired once their blood alcohol level reaches .08 percent. According to the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC,) getting to the legal limit is much easier than you might think. For example, a 160-pound man must consume only two beers in an hour’s time to be considered impaired, and over the legal limit. Of course, these statistics are only estimations. A number of factors can change how drunk one gets and how fast.

For a 100-pound woman, drinking a five-ounce serving of wine in an hour is more than enough to put her over the legal limit. By the way, five ounces of wine is not a lot. In fact, many larger wine glasses hold more than that.

How strong is your beer? These statistics are based on beer with an alcohol concentration of 4.5 percent. But most beers on the shelf have higher alcohol concentrations. If you read the fine print on the TABC chart, you will note that these totals are an estimation only.

The Bottom Line

If you drink, don’t drive. It is that simple. Choosing not to drink while impaired is a simple choice, and does not have to render the holidays completely alcohol-free, but it does mean a few simple choices that can save your own life or the lives of others on the road.

Designate a driver. Take a cab. Call an Uber. Do whatever it takes to stay out from behind the wheel if you drink. Be the friend that takes away the keys if your friends imbibe. Like I said before; I get it. What I get is that drinking and getting behind the wheel is never, ever the right choice.

Have a happy, joyous, and safe holiday season from the staff at the Law Offices of Houston M. Smith, P.C.