The holiday season is full of traditions. Families serve special meals, distribute gifts and listen to holiday music. Another tradition among adults is drinking, and the holiday season is even known for its signature adult beverages like mulled wine, hot buttered rum and alcoholic eggnog. However, one tradition worth breaking is drinking and driving.
Drinking and driving should be a serious concern for North Carolina residents all year because the state has a higher rate of alcohol-involved deaths than the national average. However, for many years the United States has had a spike in drunk driving crashes and fatalities throughout the month of December, especially the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.
In addition to the potential for causing injury and death, drunk driving can bear serious legal consequences. North Carolina's drunk driving laws are particularly severe compared with those of other states. North Carolina uses a tiered system for driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges. These levels are determined by various aggravating factors, such as a particularly high blood alcohol content, driving over the speed limit, driving recklessly, having children in the car or previous offenses. Legal repercussions of drunk driving can include fines, jail time, community service and loss of driving privileges.
You can avoid these consequences by planning a safe alternative to driving drunk. Consider which of the following options is most appropriate for your next occasion:
- Utilize an on-demand transportation company like Uber or Lyft. Download the app for your company of choice before you start drinking, so it will be easy for you to schedule a ride when you need one.
- Take a taxi. Preprogram the number for a local taxi service in your phone, so you always have it when you need it.
- Utilize public transportation. This may take some planning, but it can be a fun adventure to get to know your local public transportation system.
- Designate a sober driver. This is a great option if you plan to share a ride with other guests, which can also cut down on fuel costs. Just be sure you are not drinking on the night that is your turn to be the driver.
- Plan to spend the night. There is no shame in asking the host if you can spend the night. It is courteous to ask the host in advance, but if you had not originally planned on drinking or another safe ride fell through, do not be afraid to ask.
- If you are staying in a hotel, see if the hotel has a shuttle. Often, this service is inexpensive or even free.
By finding a safe alternative, you will help prevent the injuries, deaths and legal penalties that accompany drunk driving. Although the holiday season is full of traditions, do not allow drinking and driving to be one of them.