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Many federal and state government officials are requesting that people travel less often during this holiday season since Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases are continuing to rise. To slow the spread of the virus, individuals and families are being asked to limit gatherings and spend more time at home with members of their households. However, research shows that people are continuing to go out and shop or congregate, even in states where such activities are banned. This means that many adults are going to be on the roads during the holiday season, including drunk drivers.
Since the start of the pandemic, adults of legal drinking age have been consuming more alcohol than they were before COVID-19. Though consumption levels have only increased by 14 percent over the past calendar year, the uptick is enough to cause concern. Each year, drunk driving causes 300 deaths between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Even with COVID-19 concerns and safety recommendations, the winter season is still a dangerous time for drivers.
Drinking and driving around the holidays can occur for several reasons. The first may be that a driver has gone alone to an event, such as a private party or gathering at a bar. After the event, the driver returns to their vehicle to go home. The driver has not assigned someone else as a designated driver, so the motorist assumes driving alone is the only option.
Another situation that can lead to drinking and driving is that the driver does not realize the extent of their intoxication. A motorist often underestimates their level of intoxication, assuming that their blood alcohol content (BAC) is well within the state’s acceptable limits.
Holiday drunk driving may happen during the COVID-19 pandemic because some people are hesitant to use third-party ridesharing services. Some drivers assume that is safer to drive themselves rather than be exposed to the virus. Additionally, a motorist may feel that they are unlikely to get into a car accident because they are close to their home. This is a false premise since most crashes happen within 25 miles of a victim’s house.
Before going anywhere, a driver should decide if they are going to drink while they are away from home. If they are going to a place where alcohol will be served and they know they will indulge, a motorist should bring along someone to act as a designated driver. The designated driver’s responsibility will be to remain sober the entire evening and do all the driving.
What if a driver cannot find a sober traveling companion? Rather than taking their own vehicle, the driver may want to arrange for a rideshare service. Alternatively, the driver may ask someone going to the same destination for a pick-up. This alleviates the need for the driver to abstain from drinking alcohol because the driver will never have to get behind the wheel.
A driver who realizes they have consumed too much alcohol after getting to their destination should never drive themselves home. Instead, they should seek out a safe way to get back to their house. If they are at a friend’s or relative’s residence, they may be able to spend the night and drive home in the morning when they are sober again.
Spotting a presumed drunk driver on the highway can be a harrowing experience. What are some tell-tale signs that someone might be drunk? Some common signs of drunk driving include:
To protect themselves and their passengers, a driver should get as far away as possible from the drunk driver. Their passengers may be able to write down the license number of the assumed drunk driver so they can call 9-1-1 and alert emergency personnel about the motorist’s erratic behavior. A motorist should never try to get a drunk driver to pull over or try to force them off the highway.
Getting into any accident can be a terrifying and stressful ordeal. Even if no one seems to be hurt, everyone may be shaken up by the experience. A drunk driver may become belligerent or hostile, so it is important for a victim to stay away from the drunk motorist.
After getting into a wreck with a drunk driver, a victim should contact the authorities and wait for police and emergency responders to arrive. Police have the expertise to deal with people who have been drinking excessively and can facilitate gathering important information, including the at-fault driver’s name, information, and insurance documentation.
If someone is critically or catastrophically hurt after getting into a holiday season accident with a drunk driver, the victim may want to contact a knowledgeable lawyer. A lawyer can help a victim and their family recover adequate damages to cover medical expenses and pain and suffering. A legal professional can also take a case to trial if an insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement.
During the holiday season, it is important to be extra vigilant. If you were recently involved in a car accident, one of our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you. Contact us online or call us at 302-427-9500 for a free consultation today. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Hillsborough, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.