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Steven M. Lee, PC

Protecting Yourself and Loved Ones From DWI Disasters This Holiday Season

Drunk driving accidents happen more often during major holidaysHolidays throughout the year see a spike in drunk driving, but Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Day see some of the greatest spikes in DWIs and traffic fatalities. The stress of planning family gatherings and wild parties causes the temptation to drink to increase exponentially.

This is why it is important to not only remain cautious when traveling during the holidays, but also mindful of allowing loved ones to drink and drive. It goes without saying that you, yourself, must stay away from the driver’s seat when you’ve had too much good cheer.

Below are three positions that you may find yourself in during the holiday season where it is up to you to make the smart decision to prevent a tragic DWI accident.

Host

When hosting a party, you have more responsibilities than simply preparing food and decorating—you must also ensure that your guests stay safe. Whether you collect keys at the door or start a pool to reimburse a designated driver, your duty starts as soon as guests arrive.

Designated Driver

Before a night of drinking, people have been trained to know that it is vital to assign someone in their party as the "designated driver." The designated driver (DD) is the hero of the group: the person who vows not to drink all night and then makes sure their friends and loved ones get home safely. Whether you’re chosen or freely volunteer, it is your responsibility to see your vow accomplished by staying sober.

Unfortunately, recent research shows that being a designated driver doesn’t mean what it used to. In a small study, University of Florida research found that 40% of designated drivers did not abstain from drinking. In fact, about 17% had blood alcohol levels between .02 and .049, while 18% had BACs that were .05 or greater.

Although this study clearly shows that far too many DDs are drinking too much to operate a motor vehicle, you need to uphold your end of the bargain and refrain from consuming any alcohol, let alone enough to impair your driving. If, for some reason, you did imbibe, secure another DD or arrange for a taxi service to pick you and your loved ones up.

The tough work should not just end with your host or chosen DD, however. In order to avoid being involved in a holiday accident, your planning needs to start before you even leave for the party.

Traveler

As the driver, you need to not only be sober when traveling, but also prepared in case of other holiday hazards such as bad weather, other drunk drivers, traffic back-ups, and many other incidents. Below is a list of holiday travel safety tips that will help reduce your chance of being injured in a car accident:

  • Check road and weather conditions. The weather in Texas can be unpredictable. Make sure you know the road conditions before you set out, in order to be prepared for icy, wet, or slick roads. You should also find out what the weather will be like, so you can avoid driving in a heavy storm or other unsafe element.
  • Bring your cell phone. You never know when there could be an emergency. Always keep your cell phone handy and make sure it is fully charged.
  • Buckle up. Putting on your seat belt takes only seconds, but the decision to buckle up can be life changing. Every year, people die in car accidents and many of them aren’t wearing seat belts.
  • Plan a route. Plan a travel route and tell your friends and family about it before you take off. This will not only give them an estimated time of your arrival, but will also narrow down a search area if for some reason you don’t complete your drive.

Protection After the Fact

No matter how carefully you plan to keep yourself and loved ones safe, it may not be enough to protect you from other, more negligent holiday merrymakers. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you do not need to face the insurance companies alone. For information regarding what to do after an auto accident, contact our Houston office at 800-232-3711 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.


Steven M. Lee
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