DUIs and alcohol crashes overshadow joys of the season

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It’s no coincidence that December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that between 2011 and 2015, nearly 4,000 people were killed in alcohol-involved crashes during the month of December.

Dangers Increase on Weekend Holidays

Research shows that 1 in 6 adults say they drink more than usual during the holidays. In addition, family dynamics, money issues, and all the stresses of the holidays are often a trigger for those who struggle with alcohol misuse. Data from 500,000 repeat DUI offenders monitored 24/7 for alcohol consumption shows that drinking violations jump 48% during Christmas and a whopping 106% during New Year’s. They know they’re being monitored, and they know there will be consequences.

While December DUIs have been slowly trending downward in recent years—thanks in large part to enforcement and public awareness campaigns like NHTSA’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over—officials fear 2016 may reverse that trend. Christmas, the start of Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve all fall on a weekend, and many people have the following Monday off from work. Historically, that means people are even more inclined to indulge in a few extra drinks.

Alcohol and Driving Don’t Mix. Ever.

There’s never an excuse for getting behind the wheel after drinking. Here are a few tips to stay safe:

  1. Make plans for a sober ride home before you head out for the night. Line up a designated driver. Take a cab, Uber, or Lyft both ways to avoid the temptation to drive home. Arrange to stay the night before you take the first sip. Ask Santa for a lift. No matter what, make a plan and stick with it.
  2. Understand how much you are really consuming. Over the years, many of us have gotten used to larger drink pours. For example, two six-ounce glasses of 14% wine—a common serving size at restaurants—are really closer to three “standard” drinks.
  3. If you’re hosting this year’s holiday dinner, provide plenty of alcohol-free beverages. Having nonalcoholic choices helps guests stick to their limit, or stick to their sobriety.
Find more tips for a safe and responsible holiday season at the Sober Days for the Holidays Resource Center.

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