New Year’s Eve is a time of festivity and reflection as people come together to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new one. But it’s also a night when the temptation to drink and drive can escalate, posing increased risks on Alabama’s roads.
While enjoying the night’s celebrations, it’s crucial to be mindful of the severe consequences associated with impaired driving. The prospect of legal issues and civil action for any harm caused serves as a reminder to drive responsibly, ensuring a safe and joyous celebration for everyone.
The Risks of the Road on New Year’s Eve
On New Year’s Eve, it’s common for people to enjoy alcoholic drinks as part of their festivities. Sadly, this often results in more drivers being under the influence, which makes the roads riskier for everyone.
The National Safety Council (NSC) predicts that between 333 to 490 car accident deaths will occur during the 2023 New Year’s celebrations, and another 46,500 people are expected to suffer injuries requiring medical care.
Historical data reveals that during the 2020 New Year’s holiday period, 49% of traffic fatalities involved drivers with blood alcohol levels at or above the legal limit. This highlights the increased risks associated with impaired driving during this festive season.
Consequences of DUIs in Alabama
In Alabama, the legal consequences of driving under the influence (DUI) are severe and designed to discourage impaired driving. Here’s a breakdown of Alabama’s DUI laws and potential consequences for drunk driving:
- Penalties and fines. The penalties for a DUI in Alabama vary depending on the number of offenses. A first DUI offense can result in fines ranging from $600 to $2,100, potential jail time, and mandatory substance abuse programs. Subsequent offenses carry heavier fines, longer jail sentences, and more stringent requirements.
- License suspensions. DUI convictions in Alabama almost always lead to a suspension of driving privileges. A first offense can result in a 90-day suspension, while repeat offenses can lead to longer suspensions or even permanent revocation of a driver’s license.
- Criminal charges: A DUI offense in Alabama is not just a traffic violation; it’s a criminal charge. A first DUI offense is usually a misdemeanor, but if the incident involves injury, death, or repeated offenses, it can escalate to a felony. This carries more serious consequences, including longer jail time and larger fines.
In 2019, an underaged drunk driver was sentenced to 99 years in prison due to the reckless murder of a 29-year-old woman in Prattville, just outside Montgomery.
- Other consequences: A DUI conviction can have a long-term impact on employment opportunities and insurance rates and require the use of an ignition interlock device before driving. It can also lead to civil lawsuits if the impaired driving results in accidents causing injury or property damage.
Responsible Celebration Practices
As you prepare to ring in the New Year, here are some practical tips for enjoying the festivities responsibly and ensuring a safe end to the night:
- Designate a driver. Pick a dependable person to remain sober and drive others home, making sure everyone gets back safely without the risk of impaired driving.
- Use ridesharing services. Using apps like Uber and Lyft is a convenient option, providing a safe ride home with just a few taps on your phone, so you don’t have to drive after drinking.
- Plan for public transportation. Check schedules in advance for public buses in the city, which can be a cost-effective and responsible way to travel on New Year’s Eve.
- Host at home. If you can, throw the party at your place. This eliminates the need for transportation and allows guests to stay over if needed.
- Stay over or book a room. Plan to spend the night or reserve nearby accommodation if attending a party. This avoids the late-night drive and ensures a safe end to the evening.
- Don’t let others drive drunk. If you notice someone about to drive after drinking, try to step in. Offer to help them find a different way home or provide food and water to lessen the effects of alcohol. For your own safety, never ride with a drunk driver as a passenger.
Protect Your Rights After a New Year’s Crash
While celebrating the New Year, remember to keep safety as a top priority. If you or someone you know is involved in a New Year’s collision, our Alabama car accident attorneys at The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers in Alabama can advocate for your rights. Arrange your free consultation today.