Over the holiday season, more people will be out eating, drinking, and being merry, which means the odds of getting arrested for a DUI are also higher.
In fact, alcohol-related driving fatalities are all too common from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, a time that should be cheerful and joyous.
How can you avoid becoming one of those DUI statistics and/or causing injury or even death? Read on for some tips on how to avoid a DUI and other drunk driving consequences over the holidays.
1. Don’t Drink and Drive
The easiest and best way to avoid a DUI during the holidays is to either not drink if you are going to be driving or to have a designated driver if you plan on drinking.
This is also the best way to keep the roads safer for everyone. Remember that drunk driving doesn't affect only the person driving; it is also dangerous for anyone sharing the roads.
2. Make Sure You’re Under the Legal Limit
State DUI laws vary, but all have a legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit under which you are permitted to drive. That said, in some states, you can be arrested for a DUI even with a BAC under the limit, particularly if you have caused an accident. In such jurisdictions, the prosecution would have to show that your driving was impaired by alcohol.
One way to help keep your BAC down is to make sure you eat while drinking; food will help your body digest the alcohol. You can also be careful of how many drinks you're having per hour and calculate your BAC based on your weight. Stopping alcohol for a period of time before you will be driving may also help keep your BAC under the legal limit.
3. Drive Safely
You should always drive safely, of course, but if you find yourself driving after drinking, pay extra attention to all traffic laws—now is not the time to try to beat the yellow light or roll through that stop sign you always roll through.
All of your attention should be on the road, so no texting, chatting on your phone, or fiddling with the radio either.
4. Know Your State’s Laws
As noted above, state DUI laws vary, so if you know you will be around alcohol and may possibly be driving as well, you should brush up on your state’s laws ahead of time to make sure you’re operating within them.
One peculiarity in drinking and driving laws is that in many states, even “sleeping it off” in a vehicle can lead to a DUI arrest. That is, drivers sleeping in their car still may be charged with a DUI because laws often require only that a person is in control of a motor vehicle—and sitting in the driver's seat with the keys in the vicinity just may be enough to show that.
If the driver had turned on the car in order to warm up or listen to the radio before falling asleep, a DUI arrest is even more likely. In many states, the keys in the ignition are conclusive proof that the driver was in physical control of the vehicle.
5. Behave Yourself
If you do get pulled over by a police officer, be polite and cooperative as you comply with requests such as retrieving your driver’s license and registration and performing sobriety tests.
Note that in some states the refusal to comply with a breath, blood, or urine test can result in even more significant penalties, so it is usually a good idea to give the sample (though, again, be aware of your state’s law on this).
6. There’s an App for That
There are several DUI apps that can help you understand just how impaired you are. Some of these include the following:
- Drive Sober: Several states, including Wisconsin, Kentucky, Wyoming, Georgia, and Alabama, offer this free app to help you estimate your blood alcohol level.
- DrinkTracker: This app keeps track of the user’s blood alcohol content based on the number of drinks consumed and a personal Breathalyzer simulator.
- Intoxicheck: Through the use of six challenges, this app measures an individual’s reaction times, memory, judgment and dexterity. The user first performs the tests while sober and then after having consumed alcohol to see the differences in results.
- BreathalEyes: The eye’s involuntary movement is tracked by this app, mimicking the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test that police officers perform in the field.
Another option is the BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer, which comes in portable versions including a keychain and a small device that attaches to a smartphone. BACtrack measures blood alcohol content through a breathalyzer test, and there is also an app associated with the device through which you can keep track of what you drank and where.
There are also DUI checkpoint apps to help you locate and avoid police checkpoints.
While the above information is intended to help you avoid a DUI arrest, please take special heed of the first tip to simply not drink and drive—it is the best way to enjoy this holiday season free of any DUI consequences for you or anyone else.