A time of joy and celebration, the holidays are the perfect time to get together with friends and family, have fun, and enjoy the season. Each year, though, people are injured or killed due to drunk driving. During the holidays, drunk driving increases due to more people on the road and more people deciding to drive home after a night of drinking and having fun. Learn more about the statistics, what can happen if you drive after drinking, alternative methods for transportation, and how to get help if you are hit by a drunk driver.
What are the Statistics?
Over 91 million people throughout the US will take off on a road trip to visit family and friends between Dec 23 and Jan 1. Though the airports are packed, the most popular way to travel during the holidays is via car. Most of the year, distracted driving is the biggest cause of fatal car accidents, but during the holiday season, alcohol-related crashes increase significantly.
More than 25% of adults will say they drink more during the holiday season, whether they’re going to a party with friends or enjoying a glass of wine or two with dinner at their family’s house. More than 40% of fatal highway crashes during the holiday season are related to alcohol, and New Year’s Day is the deadliest during this period. On New Year’s Day, more than half of all crashes are related to alcohol.
While DUIs have gone down significantly in Atlanta over the past 15 years, there are still too many people who are hurt or killed as a result of drunk driving each year, especially during the holiday season. In Atlanta in 2020, there were 12,008 people convicted of driving under the influence. Of those, 1,324 were convicted for the second time, and 168 were convicted of their third or subsequent DUI. These are just the numbers for convictions, and not everyone is caught every time.
What Happens After a DUI Conviction?
In order to discourage drunk driving, the penalties for a DUI conviction can be severe. If someone is convicted a second, third, or subsequent time, the sentences, fines, and other penalties will increase. In Atlanta, a first DUI is considered a misdemeanor, so it is punishable by up to 12 months in jail. If the driver had a BAC of .08% or higher, they will be required to spend at least 24 hours in jail.
Atlanta laws require those convicted of a DUI to have a sentence of at least a year. For a first-time conviction, it’s likely the driver will spend more time on probation instead of jail. This includes a fee and monitoring to ensure the driver completes any requirements that are part of the sentence.
Getting a DUI is expensive, as there are various fines and fees that will need to be paid. For a first conviction, fines can range up to $1,000. Drivers must attend a risk reduction program, which cost more than $35, plus pay fines and fees for probation, reinstating their driver’s license, and more. This is all on top of the legal fees charged as well as the cost of hiring a lawyer.
Drivers must go through counseling and a clinical evaluation to determine if they are dependent on drugs or alcohol. If it is determined they need treatment, the treatment will need to be completed as part of the sentence. This is required for everyone who receives a DUI conviction to help prevent them from driving under the influence in the future.
When someone is convicted of a DUI, they will also have a suspended license for 12 months. It may be possible to receive a limited license that allows the driver to get to work, school, and other necessary locations during certain hours. After 120 days, many people who are convicted of a DUI can request to have their license reinstated early. This does include a fee and the completion of the risk reduction program.
Alternatives to Driving Drunk
With the dangers of drunk driving, it is always better to find alternative transportation options when drinking occurs. Some of the top alternatives offered to Atlanta residents include the following.
Choose a Driver
A designated driver is always a fantastic option, as it ensures a group of people can enjoy the night without having to worry about how they can get home safely. Be sure to determine who will be the designated driver before going out, so they won’t drink and are safe to drive.
If there’s no one to drive, order a designated driver through a ride-sharing service. Ride-sharing services allow anyone to schedule a time to be picked up and taken to their destination, so it’s easy to get to the party or event and then get home again without having to worry about driving.
Have the Car Towed
If the plan was to only have one drink, but someone ended up having more, they may consider having the vehicle towed home. During the holidays, tow services may offer free tows up to a certain point to get the driver and their vehicle home safely.
If there’s a party being planned, it may make sense to have it at a hotel or someone’s home. After a night of drinking, everyone can spend the night at the person’s home or go back to their hotel room. Since they will be staying the night, no one will drive home drunk.
Even those who are careful to avoid drunk driving can end up in an accident. With more people on the road and an increasing number of people driving after drinking, it’s possible for safe drivers to end up being hit by a drunk driver. When this happens, the first step is always to seek emergency assistance. Calling for help ensures that anyone who is injured will receive medical attention promptly and that an officer will arrive at the scene of the accident.
If someone is not badly injured, it is a good idea for them to get photos and videos of the accident scene. It is also important to write down everything that happened before, during, and after the accident, as it’s easy to forget the details over time. If the other driver is suspected of being drunk, they may be arrested at the scene.
After the scene is cleared and anyone who is injured has received medical attention, the next step is to call a lawyer for help. Those who are hit by a drunk driver may be owed compensation for the accident, and a lawyer can help them get the full amount they’re owed. Since obtaining compensation can be challenging after a drunk driving accident, it is important to have help to increase the potential for a better outcome.
The holidays are often a great time to spend with family and friends, but with the increase in traffic and drunk driving, it can be dangerous to be on the road. If you are driving safely for the holidays and are hit by a drunk driver, make sure you have help. Contact Latin Law Group, Atlanta, GA, personal injury attorney right away.