Don’t drink and drive.
That always pertinent message is especially applicable during the holidays, when gatherings are plentiful and often involve alcohol.
“It’s such an expensive mistake to make,” California Highway Patrol Capt. Steve Strull said previously. “It’s financially expensive, and God forbid somebody is ever injured or killed. It’s a major, major crime. If you kill somebody while you’re under the influence, it can be prosecuted as murder, the same way as if you’re using a gun. The only difference is the weapon is not a gun. Talk about turning your life upside down.”
There is a measurable December spike in drunk driving crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Over a five-year period, almost 4,000 people died in drunk driving crashes in the month of December. In 2015 alone, there were 840 deaths in drunk driving crashes, according to the NHTSA, which reports that those collisions are four times as likely to happen at night than during the day.
Children are victims, too. In 2015, 181 children 14 and younger were killed in crashes involving drunk driving.
And recently, the trend appeared to be worsening: In 2015, the 10,265 people who died in drunk driving crashes represented an increase of 3.2% from the previous year.
Financially too, driving drunk can have severe consequences.
Earlier this year, the Automobile Club of Southern California reported that it a first-time DUI will cost more than $15,000, including insurance rate increases of more than $10,000 over 10 years.
A recently study by WalletHub found that California was No. 1 nationally when it comes to average rate hikes after a first-time drunk driving conviction. According to the site, California ranked eighth for minimum jail time (two days for a first offense) and 10th for minimum fines (approximately $2,000, according to AAA.)
There are many more proven strategies for avoiding driving drunk, of course:
• Before events, designate non-drinking drivers who can get everyone home safely.
• Call a friend or family member for a ride if you’ve been drinking.
• Never ride as a passenger in a car driven by someone who has been drinking alcohol.
• Devise a backup plan to spend the night at the party instead of driving home under the influence.
• Take away car keys from friends and relatives who have been drinking.
Local attorney Anthony A. Arzili said authorities will be looking for common indicators of drunk driving, including a swerving vehicle, overly loud music and headlights being off in the dark.
Don’t drink and drive.