Season’s greetings! Happy holidays! Merry Christmas! Joy, peace and love… however you celebrate this holiday season, make sure that it’s a happy and safe one. We all like to let loose a little during the holiday season, and we’re probably socializing a lot more than we do during the rest of the year. You’re going to holiday parties with your coworkers, friends and family and you want to enjoy each other and have some wine, beer, eggnog or whatever is your liquor of choice. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing and having fun, of course… and for most people, a drink or two at a party is fine. But, if you’re going to have that drink or two, you need to be sure that you’re sober enough to drive before you get behind the wheel. Drunk driving is very dangerous, and the statistics are frightening.
The best way to manage holiday drinking is to select a designated driver. You can take turns so that the same person doesn’t have to do it each time, but the idea is that one person knows ahead of time that he or she is the “DD” and that person commits to not drinking so that s/he can drive your group home safely.
Know the Law
If you don’t have the option for a designated driver, you need to know the law: In Oklahoma, you can be convicted of DWI (driving while impaired) if your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. If your BAC is 0.05%, you can still be convicted of DUI (driving under the influence). If you’re convicted of DWI in Oklahoma, you can face the following:
- jail time between 10 days and one year
- fine of up to $1,000
Second offense within 10 years of first offense
- jail time between one and five years
- fine of up to $2,500
Second felony offense
- jail time between one and seven years
- fine of up to $5,000
Third or subsequent offense
- jail time between one and ten years
- fine of up to $5,000
Of course, hefty fines and lengthy jail sentences sound pretty bad, right? Right. However, these are only for being caught driving while impaired – they are nothing compared with the penalties you’ll face if your drunk driving injures or kills another person, which can be manslaughter or loss of driver’s license. And, aside from the legal penalties, there’s the horrifying and devastating truth that each time you get behind the wheel after drinking, you’re risking your own life, the life of someone you love, or that of an innocent bystander. A few drinks at a party is definitely not worth all of that.
Facts about Drinking and Driving
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking can affect the brain for hours. In fact, it can even affect a person’s driving skills the following morning after drinking the night before. The perception that caffeine will reduce the effects of alcohol is a myth. It does not. The only “cure” for drunkenness is the time it takes for the body to metabolize the alcohol. There is nothing you can do to speed up this process.
As well, the effects of alcohol can affect your ability to drive safely even before you feel drunk or buzzed. Your coordination, driving skills and judgment are impaired before you begin to feel physically affected in other ways by alcohol. Even if you’ve had only enough to drink that it makes you feel excited or energetic, your reaction time is likely prolonged and you can still lose control – both of which are extremely dangerous behind the wheel.
The safest way to drink is to limit your consumption to no more than one alcoholic drink per hour, and every other drink should be non-alcoholic. Even following this guideline, though, you should not drive if you’ve had anything to drink.
Again, selecting a designated driver is the very best way to manage holiday (or any) drinking. The designated driver should be someone who has not had anything to drink – not just the person who has had the least. Be smart, be safe, stay out of trouble and keep yourself and your loved ones safe, too. Happy holidays from all of us at McIntyre Law!