December Is Drunk Driving Awareness Month

person who is drinking handing his keys to a designated driver

Drinking during the holiday season usually starts on Blackout Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, and continues through New Year’s. During this time of year, December is one of the deadliest months to be on the roads with more impaired and drunk drivers. To bring awareness to this issue, December is designated as Drunk Driving Awareness Month.

What is Drunk Driving Awareness Month? 

Drunk Driving Awareness Month came about with efforts from Candy Lightner. On May 3, 1980, Candy’s daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunk driver, Clarence Busch. Unfortunately, this was not Clarence’s first accident while driving under the influence. 

However, at that time, most DUI laws were relatively lenient. As a result, Clarence only faced a misdemeanor charge, meaning he would pay a fine, have points added to his license, and never see any jail time. 

Due to these lenient laws, Candy set about forming Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and as her organization grew, so did its influence and enacting stricter DUI laws across the country. 

Why do we recognize Drunk Driving Prevention Month?

Every day, people die from drunk driving accidents. Their families are left devastated, especially during the holiday season. Instead of being able to enjoy the festivities and celebrations of this special time of year, they are left grieving. 

According to the NHTSA, in 2020, 11,654 people died from alcohol-impaired accidents, including vehicle accidents and pedestrian accidents. This amounts to roughly one death every 45 minutes, which is an increase of 14% in alcohol-related traffic fatalities from 2019. In 2021, there was another increase of 5% in alcohol-related traffic fatalities from 2020, as reported by MADD

Increasing awareness about drunk driving and the continued rise in traffic fatalities – especially during the holiday season – is why December is designated as Drunk Driving Prevention Month.

In addition, during this time of year, many people who do not usually drink in excess go overboard when they get together with family and friends. With the extended holiday weekends, they are encouraged to binge drink and drink more than they would normally. The result, sadly, is more impaired and drunk drivers on the roads. 

Were you or a loved one injured by a drunk driver? Schedule a free consultation with a drunk driving injury attorney today. 

Tips to avoid drunk driving during the holiday season

Choose a designated driver.

When going out, ensure at least one person in your group will remain sober and will be the designated driver. If that is not possible, leave your vehicle at home and call an Uber, Lyft, or taxi to be your designated driver. 

Host a sleepover at your house.

Instead of bar hopping, a safer way to enjoy drinking during the holidays is to host a sleepover at your house. When everyone arrives, collect their car keys and put them in a secure location where they are not accessible.  

Limit the amount of alcohol served at holiday parties. 

Reducing the availability of alcohol served at holiday parties limits how much everyone can drink. Ideally, you should serve no more than one to two drinks per hour, regardless of how long your party lasts. This is because it takes the liver about an hour, on average, to metabolize one standard drink, as reported by American Addiction Centers. 

Plan business holiday parties at hotels and encourage employees to get rooms. 

More and more businesses are hosting their holiday parties at hotels so employees can safely drink and have somewhere to stay. In addition, the company often makes arrangements with the hotel and secures a special room rate to further encourage employees not to drink and drive. 

Avoid driving from later in the evening through early in the morning. 

If at all possible, you should stay off the road from about 9 p.m. until 7 a.m. during the holiday season. Even if you are sober, the chances there are drivers on the road who are impaired or drunk are much higher. 

Host an alcohol-free holiday party.

There is a wide range of alcohol-free beverages that taste similar to the real thing. You can serve these at your holiday party and ensure everyone remains sober. 

Tips for detecting drunk drivers on the road

drunk driver view of a blurry road from a car

When you are driving during the holiday season, there are some signs you can watch for that could indicate an impaired or drunk driver, including:

  • Weaving between the lanes. 
  • Speeding up and slowing down.
  • Using turn signals or braking irregularly before one needs to turn or stop.
  • Driving into oncoming traffic. 
  • Driving with the headlights turned off.
  • Driving extremely slowly. 
  • Turning or stopping abruptly without any notice.
  • Drifting off the shoulder.
  • Striking or hitting road markers, curbs, parked vehicles, or other stationary objects.
  • Following too closely (tailgating). 
  • Slow response times when stopping or starting. 

What should I do if I suspect an impaired or drunk driver?

You should keep a safe following distance from the other driver since their driving can change erratically and unexpectedly. If it is safe to do so, get their license plate number and their vehicle make and model, but do not put yourself at risk. 

Call 911 and alert the police by providing the location, the vehicle’s direction, and any other details you can provide, along with the license plate number if you obtained it. Lastly, distance yourself even further or choose an alternate route. 

How can I seek legal action if I am the victim of a drunk driving accident?

Colorado’s criminal justice system treats most DUIs as traffic infractions. However, there are strict fines and penalties for being convicted and found guilty of DUI offenses. When serious injuries or deaths occur, the defendant could face additional criminal charges as allowed by law.

While being held accountable for their actions under criminal law, it does little for you or a loved one when you are injured in a drunk driving accident. Fortunately, you have legal rights. Drunk driving personal injury claims fall under tort laws, part of the civil justice system.

You can file a personal injury claim against the drunk driver and their insurance company in civil court with assistance from a drunk driving accident attorney. You can also sue the drunk driver when you or a loved one experiences catastrophic injuries or file a wrongful death claim if someone dies. 

It can also be beneficial to review your state’s laws regarding wrongful death laws for filing a case in your state. In Colorado, CRS 13-21-201 and CRS 13-21-202 contain the requirements for seeking damages for death by negligence. 

In the event of catastrophic injuries or death, we recommend reviewing Unthinkable by Kyle Bachus. The information in this book provides real answers for families dealing with catastrophic injuries or the loss of a loved one. 

How much does it cost to hire a drunk driving accident attorney?

There is no upfront cost to hire a personal injury attorney as they work on a contingency basis. The same is true when hiring a catastrophic injury lawyer or a wrongful death lawyer. 

Working on a contingency basis means the attorney only collects legal fees if they reach a settlement agreement or win your case at trial. Your attorney will inform you of their legal fees during your initial free consultation.

It is also worth mentioning that most drunk driving injury claims are settled and never go to trial. 

In Colorado, you can schedule a free consultation for drunk driving injuries, catastrophic injuries, or wrongful death with the Elite Litigation Group at Bachus and Schanker and one of our drunk driving accident attorneys.

Schedule your free consultation by contacting our drunk driving, catastrophic, and wrongful death attorneys for assistance today. 

Sources:

National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month December 2022. (2022).

MADD. (2022).

Traffic Safety Facts: Alcohol-Impaired Driving. (2022).

New Estimates of Lives Taken in 2021 Traffic Crashes Amount to National Emergency. (2022).

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System? (2022).

Colorado Drunk Driving Laws. (2022).

CRS 13-21-201. (2022).

CRS 13-21-202. (2022).

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