Tips for a Safe and Happy New Year’s Weekend!

The start of each new year is a time to reflect on the past year and make plans for the future. It holds a special magic, with a promise of new opportunities and the possibility to change our lives for the better.

We want everyone to ring in the New Year safely and your local law enforcement departments want you to have a happy weekend too. The goal is zero deaths due to impaired driving over the New Year’s holiday weekend.

Please Don't Drink and Drive This Holiday Season - Drive Smart Nebraska

Don’t Drink & Drive this New Year’s Eve —– If you are drinking, don’t drive. If you’re driving, don’t drink. A simple rule for life can save a lot of lives. Please don’t drink and drive.

Hosting a party?

Serve nonalcoholic drinks

Obviously, the easiest way to know your guests won’t drive under the influence is to limit their access to alcohol. However, many of your guests may expect, want, or bring their own. It still doesn’t hurt to offer nonalcoholic drinks to designated drivers and to those who simply don’t wish to drink.

Ask about plans for a designated driver

While it may sound nosy, making sure your guests pick a designated driver may help you decide if you need to confiscate keys or let someone pass out on your couch. Empathize that you’re asking for safety and most people will likely tell you what plans they made to stay safe.

Offer alternative transportation

Uber and Lyft both offer an amazing service that allows hosts to “gift” a taxi ride to an intoxicated friend. Consider offering this to a friend who cannot drive safely.

Give them a place to crash

Your friend may drive drunk if he or she doesn’t realize your place is open. If you feel like a friend cannot safely drive home, offer your couch. It may inconvenience you or your friend, but it could save a life.

Confiscate keys at the door

When your guests arrive, take the driver’s key or request they be placed in a locked room with purses and coats. That way you can be sure no one leaves your house unsafe to drive.

Going out?

If you are headed out to a party, it’s important to be responsible and avoid drinking and driving. Not only do you risk your life, but you also risk the lives of those around you (or around your car). In fact, it is estimated that two of out every three Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related car accident.

You may think you can drive while intoxicated, but, no matter how much you regularly drink, alcohol always affects your depth perception and information-processing (psychomotor) skills. Since alcohol is a depressant, it will slow down your central nervous system’s functions, which delays your brain’s ability to assess and respond. Basically, it reduces your reaction time.

Every state has a different legal limit, but driving with a BAC (Blood Alcohol content) above .08% is extremely dangerous. In fact, a driver’s judgment is considered intoxicated if he or she has a BAC of just .05%, sometimes even lower. That’s why, if you plan on drinking over New Years, you should have a safety plan in place.

Have a designated driver

Always a wise choice, have someone in your group stay sober. Make sure you pick someone who is responsible and can get everyone home safely.

Take a taxi

It may cost a bit more, but that’s nothing compared to the cost of a life, for what could equal the value of a human soul? If you’re feeling a little woozy or are afraid your judgment might be impaired, call a taxi and make sure you get home safely.

Stay over

If you aren’t confident in your driving skills–confident enough to bet your life on your ability to drive–then ask your friend if you can crash on his (or her) couch for the night.

Give your keys to the host

If you’re afraid you might get too drunk to drive safely, ask the party’s host if he (or she) can keep hold of your keys unless he (or she) believes you are sober enough to drive home.

DUI or DWI

A DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) can earn you jail time, a license suspension, and large fees. Driving while drunk could cause a car accident, which may increase your insurance. It could also kill someone, which can result in vehicle-manslaughter charges, a second-degree murder charge. Driving drunk is not worth these risks. You may have the mentality that you won’t “get caught” driving drunk, but it’s not about getting caught. It’s about protecting your life, your passengers’ lives, and the lives of those sharing the road with you.

How much is too much?

Frequent drinkers believe they can “handle” their liquor. But, the truth is, most metabolisms need a full hour to properly digest a glass of alcohol. A standard “glass” is usually classified as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. If you drink more than this in an hour, you should wait before getting behind the wheel.

NEW YEARS SAFETY

Among all the fun and noise of a New Year’s celebration, it’s important to ensure that the festivities are safe and that there are people in attendance who are designated to stay sober and ensure safety. Laws do not ensure that nothing bad ever happens; it’s people making the right the choices.  If you are hosting a party, there are safety measures that you can implement to help keep people safe and reduce liability on the big night or any night over the New Year Weekend.  Here are some ideas: 

  • Use common sense to include not driving after drinking.
  • Designate a non-drinking driver before the party.
  • Utilize public transportation where available.
  • Spend the night at the party location.
  • If you are hosting the party, ensure that nonalcoholic drinks are also served.
  • Have the courage to refuse a friend a drink if he/she is finding it difficult to keep their behavior in check.
  • Consider the safety and welfare of your pets.

Loud music and people, fireworks, and strangers can result in unnecessary distress for your pets.

  • Ensure that your pet(s) has ID tags with current information on them and that they are safely secured before the party.
  • Candles, kids, and pets don’t mix.  Keep them away from each other. 

The responsibility and much of the liability of a safe party remains with the host.  The host should know a few things about the liquor that is being served.  For instance, beer and wine are just as intoxicating as distilled spirits.  A 12-ounce can of beer, a five-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce wine cooler, and an ounce and a half of liquor contain nearly the same amount of alcohol.  Mixers won’t help dilute alcohol; they just make alcohol tastier.

In fact, scientific research reveals that alcoholic drinks using artificial sweeteners lead to a higher rate of alcohol absorption resulting in a greater blood alcohol concentration than from drinks made with sugar-based mixers. 

Carbonated mixers like club soda or tonic water cause alcohol to be absorbed into a person’s system more quickly.  Fruit juice and other sweet mixers mask the taste of alcohol and may cause people to drink more. 

And lastly, there is a tendency to rely on someone’s physical appearance to determine his/her state of intoxication.  If someone you know is acting out of character, they may well be intoxicated.

Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving Awareness Campaign

The weeks leading up to the holiday season are a busy period on America’s roads. To help keep drivers safe, our local law enforcement departments will work with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the national Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving drunk-driving-awareness campaign.

If you plan to go out and include alcohol in your celebration, make sure you refrain from driving. Review these facts and spread the word about the dangers of drunk driving.

  • During the 2016-2020 December months, more than 4,400 people were killed in drunk-driving-related crashes. 
  • Drunk male drivers were involved in fatal crashes at a much higher rate (660) in December 2020 compared to female drivers (191). 
  • Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers (with BACs at or above .08). In 2020, there were 11,654 people killed in drunk-driving crashes.
  • Although it’s illegal to drive when impaired by alcohol, in 2020 one person was killed every 45 minutes in a drunk-driving crash on our nation’s roads.
  • The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2020 was 3.1 times higher at night than during the day.

Plan for a Safe Celebration

Always remember to plan ahead when you will be celebrating with alcohol. If you plan to drink, make arrangements for a sober driver to take you home. Before you start celebrating this holiday season, look over these safety tips to keep you, your loved ones, and everyone else safe on the road. 

  • Plan ahead: If you wait until you’ve been drinking to make a smart decision, you might not. Before you have one drink, designate a sober driver who won’t be drinking.
  • If it’s your turn to be the designated driver, take your job seriously, and don’t drink. 
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, 911 immediately.
  • Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and let a sober driver get your friend home safely.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year’s Weekend!

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