Ringing in the New Year is a big celebratory event for many. The holiday involves large parties, gatherings with friends and families, travel and vacation, a reflection on the past year, and wishes for the upcoming year. Because of these factors, New Year's Eve is a big drinking holiday for many U.S. residents. With that increased consumption of alcohol comes the increased risk of drunk driving incidents.
If you have been involved in a New Year's Eve DUI, it's important to know your rights and your legal options. If you are concerned about a DUI offense on the holiday, then contact our DUI attorneys in Chicago for a free case review today!
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What to Do If You're Accused of a DUI on New Year's Eve?
As with any DUI arrest, it is very important to secure the services of a lawyer before speaking to law enforcement agencies. You have the right to not incriminate yourself after an arrest. Exercise this right by politely refusing to answer any questions from police officers until you have an attorney present.
Once you have made contact with a Chicago criminal lawyer, they will be able to guide you through the next steps of the process. It is important that you are honest with your lawyer so there are no surprises along the way. The attorney will ask about all of the events leading up to the arrest. This includes what you were doing before getting behind the wheel, how much alcohol you may have consumed, where you were headed, and the details about the interaction with the arresting officer.
A DUI criminal defense lawyer will build a defense using tried and true strategies. They will do their best to get the charges dropped, but if they cannot, they will work to lessen the charges and minimize the penalties.
New Year's Eve Fatality Estimate
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the overall percentage of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities on New Year's Eve has decreased in the last 20 years. In 1983, alcohol-related accident deaths were 60% of all auto fatalities. In 2019, that percentage dropped to 36%. While growth should be acknowledged, DUI crash fatalities still made up over a third of all motor vehicle-related deaths.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers more statistics on this matter. Their findings estimate that drunk driving-related deaths made up 62% of all auto accident deaths on New Year's Eve between 2011-2015. The average percentage of drunk driving deaths on any other day of the year was 35% for that same period of time.
The NHTSA estimates at least 427 DUI-related deaths for the upcoming New Year's Eve holiday.
New Year's Eve Statistics
Harris Poll, a market research company based out of Chicago, Illinois, provided some startling statistics for the realities of alcohol use and the behavior of adults related to this dangerous holiday.
Sixteen percent of participants said they consume more alcohol during the holidays. Fifty percent said alcohol was a part of their family gatherings and was used as a way to reduce stress and anxiety. Over half of the participants said they experienced negative consequences because of drinking. Of those negative consequences, the following was reported:
10% claimed involvement in an auto accident due to alcohol impairment
13% received a DUI charge
16% had sexual relations with someone they later regretted
24% blacked out with no recollection of certain events
The reason for such a higher percentage of deaths related to DUIs on this holiday is that not only are more people drinking, but people are drinking more. New Year's Eve DUI offenders tend to have a higher Blood Alcohol Concentration than offenders throughout the year. The BAC legal limit is 0.08%. Nearly 75% of New Year's Eve drunk driving deaths accidents involved a driver with a BAC of 0.15% or higher according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
How to Help Lower the Chances of a DUI on New Year's Eve
Of course, the foolproof way to avoid a drunk-driving arrest is to not drink and to stay home. However, this may not be suitable for everyone. It's important to drink responsibly and not overindulge on this holiday. To lower your chances of a DUI-related offense follow these tips:
Plan for a designated driver ahead of time - this could be a friend or a hired sober driver who is committed to safely transporting you to your holiday parties
Order an Uber, Lyft, or Taxi - although rates may be higher during the holiday season, an Uber surge price is a lot cheaper than DUI fines and fees
Take public transit or walk - avoid getting in a car altogether. Stay with a group and plan your transportation ahead of time
Limit your consumption - Limiting your alcohol intake or choosing to switch to non-alcoholic beverages hours before you must operate a vehicle can reduce your BAC
Stay put - Make arrangements beforehand to stay with family, and friends, or at a hotel where you will be drinking. That way if you overdo it, you don't have to worry about getting in a vehicle
Above all else, remember to never get into a vehicle with an impaired driver. Even if you are a passenger, your risk of being injured, killed, or involved in a fatal crash significantly increases if your driver is under the influence of alcohol.
Don't Become a Statistic, Call Ktenas Law Today
Drunk drivers are responsible for a large portion of traffic deaths and injuries. But even without physical harm, the less-discussed consequences can be life-altering. The increase in insurance costs, stains on your driving record, effects on your reputation, potential loss of driving privileges, hefty fines and potential time can significantly affect your life. Avoid these consequences by choosing not to drive. But if you've already made the mistake and are facing DUI charges, Ktenas Law is here to help. We believe in aggressive defense to protect our client's rights and to get them back to a normal life. Contact us today to begin your free consultation.