Drinking and driving during the holiday season

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We are in full holiday swing and the season brings an increase in parties and social events which leads to an increase in DUI incidents and fatal drunk driving crashes.   In 2013, NHTSA reported that during the time period of December 18-31, 1180 were killed as a result of car crashes with a third related to drunk driving.  Furthermore, in December 2013, 733 people were killed in car crashes involving drivers who had had high blood alcohol (BAC) levels.  Between 2009-2013, (in the month of December) 3,857 people died in car accidents involving who had high BAC levels.   The agency also reported that motorcycles were involved in the most fatal drunken driving crashes at 27%, with car accidents following at 23 %.  In 2014, a total of 32,675 people died in car crashes with 9,967 attributed to drunk driving. Texas, California, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania reported the most traffic deaths and the highest number of deaths attributed to alcohol impaired driving.  Also, NHTSA reported that alcohol related auto crashes cost around $37 billion annually.

There was a CDC report issued that highlighted the need for continued emphasis on the risks associated with drunken driving. The report, Alcohol-Impaired Driving among Adults – United States, 2012, noted that 4.2 million U.S. adults reported drinking and driving. Certain factors increased risk. Men were involved in 80 percent of alcohol impaired driving instances and men aged 21-34 made up 32 percent of all alcohol related driving occurrences. Those who reported not always using a seatbelt were three times more likely of being involved in alcohol impaired driving.  Though the CDC report found men were involved in the majority of alcohol impaired driving occurrences, an NHTSA study noted that there was an upward trend in women driving under the influence.  The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends staying off roads between midnight and 3 a.m. when the incidence of drunken driving is highest.

These statistics go hand in hand with the research News4Jax found in an investigation they recently did focusing on Northeast Florida.  It is an eye-opening piece that all of our clients, followers, and readers need to know to educate themselves and be on the lookout when they are driving in these areas at certain times of day.

Last year, 2,361 drivers were arrested for DUI in Duval, St. Johns and Clay counties as well as Atlantic, Neptune and Jacksonville Beach. Where were they arrested? What day? What time?  The News4Jax did a recent investigation with their I-TEAM and analyzed data from these arrests to answer these questions, with the hopes it would help arm the public with information to keep everyone safe as they travel this holiday season.

According to the analysis, three times as many men as women were arrested in 2015 for DUI.  More specifically, men between the ages of 30 and 39 were among the largest age group followed by men between 21 and 29 years old. Men in these age groups account for nearly half of all the DUI arrests last year.  More women between 21 and 29 years old were arrested than any other age group followed by 30- to 39-year- olds. As both age groups get older, the numbers were still pretty high: 316 men between the ages of 40 and 49-years old were pulled over compared to 98 women arrested in that same age group.   Among 50- and 59-year-olds, 212 men were arrested for driving under the influence compared to 89 women last year. These figures suggest regardless of age, far more men than women are getting caught behind the wheel while impaired.

When?

The time of day is not surprising when the majority of people get pulled over.  More drivers were arrested for DUI in 2015 early Sunday mornings — between 1 and 3 a.m. — than any other day or time. The second and third most frequent day and time: early Saturday mornings followed by Friday nights.

Where?

By far the highest concentration of DUI arrests last year happened at or near the Beaches. Atlantic Boulevard had the most — 223 drivers — with many of them closer to the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean.  Beach Boulevard is a close second. 168 drivers were pulled over for DUI, and many of them occurred between San Pablo Road and the beach.  Third, is 3rd street, also known as A1A, which runs parallel to the ocean.  The fourth road with the highest number of DUI arrests is Philips Highway, where police arrested 73 drivers last year — mainly between Atlantic Boulevard and Baymeadows Road.   The fifth road was back towards the beach: Mayport.  67 drivers were pulled over between Atlantic Boulevard and Mayport Road last year.

The Victims

Officer J.R. Garcia, with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office DUI unit told News4Jax “I’ve heard a judge say and I agree with him, the only difference between a simple misdemeanor DUI and a DUI manslaughter (case) is pure dumb luck.  It can be a matter of a split decision.”  Garcia says most DUI drivers he has pulled over insist they are fine to drive. ” He says what they don’t realize is how alcohol or drugs can impact their ability to stop short if a bicycle or child darts out in front of their car or realize their slower reaction speed to stop at a red light. Those are the mental impairments that he says drivers under estimate.  He said by far the greatest number of DUI arrests he has made is drivers who combine prescription drugs with other prescriptions or with alcohol.

So, if you are going to a party or out late, be aware when you on the roads.  And if you plan on drinking at a holiday party, have a plan to get home with a sober driver.

Click here for some good tips from MADD – http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/safe-party/2016_Safe-Party-TipsWEB.png

If you or a loved one has been injured or died  as a result of a drunk driver, contact us at Edwards & Ragatz for a free consultation: (800)366-1609; locally – (904)399-1609; or email us directly at info@edwardsragatz.com.

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