Who doesn’t love a good party? Whether you’re having drinks and appetizers with co-workers over a promotion or celebrating a birthday with friends, we all enjoy getting together to socialize, eat, and drink. During the holidays, these kinds of events are frequent and joyous. Often, they are fueled by alcohol, as everyone takes time to relax and celebrate the holidays and end of the year. Unfortunately, drinking can turn quickly from fun to tragic, especially if someone gets into their vehicle and drives drunk. This is dangerous to the driver, those in his or her vehicle, and anyone who may be driving, standing, walking, or biking nearby.
Drunk driving remains one of the greatest contributors to fatal and non-fatal traffic accidents in the United States. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD, there is a drunk driving crash resulting in injury every two minutes. In addition to generally being impaired in terms of reaction time, those who are drive drunk often often have impaired decision-making skills and are more likely to engage in other unsafe behaviors while behind the wheel. This is a recipe for disaster, as it increases the odds of an accident due an unsafe driver who may also be speeding, distracted, otherwise unfocused.
Even more frightening are the statistics on how often drunk drivers get behind the wheel of a vehicle while impaired. On average, by the time a drunk driver is pulled over and arrested for driving while under the influence, he or she has already repeated the deadly behavior 80 times. Though drunk driving accidents and deaths have decreased greatly over the past 30 years, thanks to efforts of policy-makers and groups like MADD, there is still much work to do. During the holidays and throughout the rest of the year, it’s up to us to not only make good decisions for ourselves but also to protect our friends and others. We each can have an impact by encouraging others to drink responsibly and refusing to allow others to drive after they have been drinking.
Whenever you decide to host a party, especially one involving alcohol, you are taking on a serious responsibility. I don’t mean coming up with the perfect menu, seating arrangement, or making a killer appetizer. Whether you are throwing together a fancy dinner party or a casual cookout, you bear some responsibility for ensuring your guests are safe, during and after the party. This may sound like a bummer, but it’s far better than hearing a dear friend is the result of a drunk driving accident at the end of the night.
There are things you can do to protect your friends and family members, some of which are subtle and will go completely unnoticed (but can still make a difference). The most important thing you can do is to avoid drinking yourself. This is critical, as it puts you in a position where you can keep an eye on your guests and help them to make the right decisions. If your decision-making is impaired, who will be looking out for your guests?
Other steps you can take to keep your guests safe are:
- Avoid encouraging early drinking, especially if food is not immediately available;
- Offer plenty of non-alcoholic beverage selections.
- Discourage games that result in guests engaging in rapid consumption of alcohol.
- Encourage guests to alternate between glasses of water and alcohol. If you are serving and a guest is drinking too much, provide them water without request.
- Make sure food is plentiful. High fat foods like meat, nuts, and cheese are especially good for parties where guests are drinking alcohol.
- Stop serving alcohol 2 hours before the event is supposed to end. Providing a hard cut-off time will allow everyone the opportunity to sober up somewhat.
- Lastly, ALWAYS keep a close eye on your guests. As the host, you should be fully aware if someone is getting too tipsy, and you should know when guests are leaving, as well as who is driving. Have information ready so that you can call alternative transportation for those who need it.
Taking Care of Yourself
After all that taking care of everyone else, you may be itching to go out for a drink or two yourself. Obviously, if you’re of legal age, there’s nothing at all wrong with going out to enjoy yourself with friends. It is, however, important to find ways to take care of yourself and be responsible while drinking. What’s the number one way to protect yourself and others in an effort to drink responsibly? Avoid driving. It’s just that simple. Do not drive a car. Do not drive a truck. Do not drive a motorcycle, bicycle, or your cute purple Vespa. After a couple of drinks, you should always assume you are not equipped to operate any kind of vehicle. Instead, you should know your limits, keep track of how much alcohol you have had, and make sure you take the following steps at the beginning of the night—by the end of the night, they may just save your life.
- Park your car in a location where you will feel comfortable leaving it overnight if you find yourself unable to drive.
- Know your plan for getting home after a wild night and use it. Whether you have a friend, Uber Detroit, or designated driver take you home, it’s important to already have key contact information and a sober commitment to using your plan if you need it.
- As a backup plan, know what your public transportation options are at the location where you will be. A bartender or bouncer may be able to help with this if you find yourself in a difficult situation.
The attorneys and staff at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm care greatly about our clients and members of the communities we serve. We hope you will use this holiday to celebrate but also to be safe. If something does happen and you are injured in a drunk driving accident, call us for help. Our drunk driving accident lawyers will be ready to support you in your time of need and healing, and we can help decrease the financial pressures on your family by aggressively pursuing a personal injury claim on your behalf. Call us today to get started with your FREE initial consultation: 1-800-LEE-FREE.