How to stay safe from DUI drivers during the holidays

The holiday season is fast approaching, and while we all look forward to trick-or-treating, family gatherings, and winter festivities, with the frosty season comes a greater risk for alcohol-related accidents. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, each year in Colorado, nearly 200 people are killed in alcohol-related crashes, and 25,000 drivers are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). In fact, more than 40 percent of all fatal crashes in our state involve alcohol.

As millions of us hit the roads to visit friends and relatives, those crowded roadways tend to lead to far too many traffic related fatalities. Surprisingly, while many people believe that New Year’s Eve is the night when most drunk driving accidents occur, Thanksgiving is the holiday that statistically has the largest number of drunk driving fatalities, with Christmas a close second, as one of the most dangerous driving holidays according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas period alone, an average of 45 fatalities involving alcohol-impaired drivers occur each day and soar to 54 per day over the New Year’s holiday – that’s more than a 20 percent jump in alcohol-related accidents than at other times of the year.

Follow these tips for safe holiday travel to help reduce the risk of a serious accident:

  • Buckle up! Most serious injuries to drivers and their passengers are prevented in motor vehicle accidents just by properly wearing a seatbelt.
  • Keep your cool and expect the unexpected. Intoxicated drivers may make erratic moves and fail to follow the rules of the road. Give yourself plenty of space between you and other drivers, keep your occupants (like children) occupied to reduce distractions, and know your travel route before you get in the car.
  • Use a designated driver. Have a plan, in advance, for who is drinking and who is doing the driving after the festivities. Your plan should also include using a car service like Uber or calling a taxi if you’ve been drinking. According to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, a DUI arrest will cost a driver more than $8,000 in fines, attorney’s fees and insurance rate hikes. Any cab ride will cost you less. It’s never worth risking your money, your life, or the lives of others on the road.
  • Plan for winter driving. “It’s really all about winterizing your driving skills as well as your car,” says Mark Stolberg, vice president of training at Master Drive, a driving school with four Colorado locations. “Winter is a real transition from what we’re used to in summer.” That means good snow tires or chains, leaving more distance for braking, and watching out for other drivers.
  • Look for signs of an alcohol-impaired driver to keep you and your family safe, such as weaving, driving on the wrong side of the road, driving at a very slow speed, braking erratically, or driving without the headlights on after dark.

If you or a loved one were injured in a DUI accident, contact an experienced Colorado DUI accident attorney who can evaluate your case and help you understand your rights.