When the leaves begin to change color, we know we’ve entered the start of the holiday season. And while the holidays are a great time to get together with friends and family, for many, they also mean excessive drinking and a rise in drunk driving crashes.

Thirty-seven percent of all fatal crashes on holidays are the fault of drunk drivers. Altogether, drunk drivers caused more than 6,000 deaths during the holidays between 2010-2018. During that same period, South Carolina ranked 8th in the nation for having the most drunk driving deaths annually on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If you or a loved one is injured by a drunk driver, the team at Joye Law Firm can help you get the compensation you need to put the pieces of your life back together. But we far and above prefer helping reduce the number of drunk driving crashes during the holiday season so no one has to experience injury or losing a loved one during what should be a joyful time.

Drunk Driving on Thanksgiving

Your risk of a fatal drunk driving crash on Thanksgiving is 77% higher than average for any other day of the year. Between 2013-2017, more than 800 people were killed in drunk driving accidents during the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

On average, men will have 3.1 drinks each on Thanksgiving Day, while women will have 2.4 drinks, according to data collected by alcohol.org.

But one aspect that makes Thanksgiving so dangerous for drivers is the length of the holiday. The day before Thanksgiving is often called “Blackout Wednesday” or “Drinksgiving,” referring to the binge drinking many people, especially younger people, engage in when spending time with friends before the family holiday. And because the actual holiday takes place on a Thursday, many people may be staying in town until the end of the weekend before traveling home, which results in more drinking, more drunk drivers, and more cars on the road in general.

Drunk Driving on Christmas

Of the three major winter holidays, Christmas has the least drunk driving deaths, but that doesn’t mean there is no danger. In fact, drunk driving crashes start to steadily increase beginning at Christmas and continuing up until the New Year. Drunk drivers make up 40% of all fatal accidents between Christmas and New Year. In 2018, that meant 285 entirely preventable deaths.

Why is this? It is likely in large part because people are off from school or work, attending holiday parties where alcohol is involved, and more people are traveling, which means more drunk drivers and more traffic.

Drunk Driving on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day

Your risk of a fatal drunk driving crash is 129% higher on New Year’s Day than the average for any other day of the year. In fact, the National Safety Council predictions estimate that as many as 384 people could be killed in drunk driving crashes this year between Thursday, December 31 and Sunday, January 3rd.

According to alcohol.org, the average American over the age of 21 will have 4.4 drinks on New Year’s Eve. With binge drinking defined as having more than 4-5 drinks in under two hours, of those who drink, 47% of men will binge drink and 40% of women will binge drink, the highest rates of any holiday.

What’s Considered Drunk Driving?

South Carolina defines drunk driving as driving when you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. With a BAC of at least 0.08%, you will be automatically charged with DUI, but you can also be charged with DUI if you have a BAC of at least 0.05% but less than 0.08% if other evidence also suggests you are too impaired to drive.

So, what is 0.08% BAC in practical terms? Unless you have access to a breathalyzer, which most people don’t, it can be hard to tell if you’ve reached the legal limit, especially since it can vary depending on many factors, including alcohol percentage of the drinks; how quickly you were drinking; whether you ate food or drank water with it; and your age, gender, and body type; there’s no clear answer based on how many drinks you had.

So, how can you know whether you’re still safe to drive? The truth is ANY amount of alcohol can impair your ability to drive, and you can still cause a crash because you were impaired by alcohol, even if you are below the legal limit. Consider simply not driving after drinking alcohol, especially when there are plenty of alternative options available, including rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft.

What to Do if You’re Injured in a Crash

Call Joye Law Firm.

Nothing ruins a festive and happy holiday quicker than a car crash, especially one that causes injuries. If you’ve been injured through the actions of a drunk driver, you deserve compensation.

The dangers of drunk driving are widely recognized, and anyone who puts your life or the lives of your loved ones at risk because they chose to drink and drive deserves to be held accountable for the harm they caused. Contact us today to discuss what we can do for you.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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