Don’t drink and drive if you want to stay alive

Published 8:44 am Saturday, December 28, 2013

Every year, millions of people gather for New Year’s Eve parties around the country, whether it is out on the town or at a friend’s house.

We get it. Drinking Champagne with the people you love the most is a great way to bring in the New Year. However, the problem arises when the time comes to find a way home.

For perhaps the majority, you have already planned this out so that you will stay with a friend or you have a ride home. But for those of you who have not planned it out, we encourage you to do so. It is certainly tempting after a few drinks to try and get behind the wheel to get home, and it is especially easy to think you are fine.

While drunk driving fatalities occur all year, data shows that the holiday season is a particularly dangerous time on the roadways, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In 2011, 760 people lost their lives as a result of drunk-driving-related crashes during the month of December alone. During Decembers from 2007 to 2011, there were 4,169 people killed in crashes that involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.

The Virginia State Police warn that when you drink and drive, you are endangering yourself, your passengers and those on the road around you. Even one drink can increase the risk of a crash while driving.

On the local level throughout the whole year: In Franklin City in 2012, there were five crashes with alcohol as a factor, one person died and seven were injured.

In Southampton County, there were 15 crashes, three fatalities and five injuries. In Isle of Wight County, there were 46 crashes and 31 injuries. No one died.

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, 229 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, which was a 6.53 percent decrease from 2011.

We encourage Virginians to keep that statistic on the decline by thinking ahead.

To keep your holiday safe:

* Before the party starts, plan a safe way home.

* Before drinking, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys.

If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home safely.

If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact the Virginia State Police by dialing #77 on your cell phone.

Drunk driving can result in arrest, loss of driving privileges, higher insurance rates, lost time at work, court costs, fines, attorney’s fees and many other unwanted consequences, such as injuries or death.