Prevent Drunk Driving Injuries and Crashes This Holiday Season

Make a Holiday Safety Plan

It’s the holiday season, a time to enjoy family and friends. But the mood quickly turns somber when you make the wrong decision about alcohol. Commit to use good judgment and avoid causing drunk driving injuries.

If you drink, consume alcohol responsibly. As personal injury lawyers, we have seen how drunk driving changes lives forever.

Many crashes are fatal. In 2020, approximately 32 people died in drunk driving crashes each day in the U.S. and the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s saw a high number of crashes (Source: NHTSA).

Here in Massachusetts, drivers can also expect to face criminal and financial consequences, as can restaurants and other establishments which serve underage or intoxicated drivers. Massachusetts law recognizes that dram shops – businesses and other organizations – have legal responsibilities to serve alcohol responsibly and can be held liable by victims of drunk driving crashes. Homeowners can also face criminal charges and liability under social host laws.

When you head out, remember a few critical points:

  • First, remember to drink responsibly to protect yourself and others on the roads.
  • Use good judgment. You do not have to be legally drunk to cause an injury and be held liable. Alcohol has different effects on each of us, especially when you factor in fatigue or medications.
  • Re-read prescription labels. Follow warnings not to consume alcohol and drive while taking prescription medication.
  • Plan your transportation home before you go out. Remember Uber and Lyft can help.

Consider the Legal Limit Just One Measure of Unsafe Driving

In Massachusetts, drivers must be 21 years old to legally consume alcohol. Drivers of age can be criminally charged for operating under the influence of alcohol if they have a .08 or greater blood alcohol content. For commercial drivers, the legal limit is .04.

Massachusetts, 48 other states and Washington D.C. have all set the legal limit at .08 for most drivers.

But the long discussion about the legal limit continues. In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended all states lower the legal limit to .05. Utah went onto pass a drunk driving law, which lowered the legal limit in 2017. This new law took effect in 2018.

In 2020, approximately 32 people died in drunk driving crashes each day in the U.S., the NHTSA reports.

The law has contributed to safer roads. In early 2022, the NHTSA reported Utah’s fatal crash rate had declined 19.8 percent between 2016 and 2019.

Utah residents are also more aware of their responsibility not to drink and drive. A 2018 survey found 27 percent of drinkers and 13 percent of non-drinkers were aware of the law, which was about to take effect. In 2019, 22 percent of the drinkers reported they had changed their approach. Most said they were now planning transportation when they drank outside their home.

Learn the Impacts of Alcohol

The NHTSA has published an informative chart on how alcohol can impair your driving, even if you are not legally drunk.

This chart is hard to ignore as we start the holiday season. The NHTSA reports alcohol can impact us at .02 BAC, causing a decline in visual functions and one’s ability to manage two tasks at once. And driving definitely requires multi-tasking – not just mirrors, pedals and brakes, but watching for pedestrians, cyclists and other conditions.

At .08 BAC, drivers can suffer a wide range of symptoms, including poor muscle coordination, reduced concentration, short-term memory loss and impaired perception. It becomes harder for drivers to control their speed and recognize and respond to dangerous conditions.

The effects are even more severe at higher BAC levels. In that state, drivers may not even be aware of their surroundings, raising their risk of running red lights or causing wrong-way crashes.

Fatal crashes in Massachusetts rose by 33 percent

Drunk driving contributes as fatal crashes are on the rise across the United States. In Massachusetts, the number of fatal crashes has risen 33 percent in 2022, based on the NHTSA’s first quarter report.

Massachusetts has seen devastating cases of drunk driving crashes in recent years, including the case of an employee who left a holiday work party at a private home in Pembroke intoxicated. The employee was accused of driving through a red light, hitting a car and killing a 13-year-old girl from Plymouth. He was later criminally charged.

Grieving, the girl’s family also filed a civil lawsuit in Plymouth Superior Court seeking unspecified damages from the driver and the two individuals who owned the home, according to The Boston Globe.

Consult a Lawyer After a Car Accident

If you are injured in a car accident, you may not be able to tell if the driver has been drinking or was operating negligently in another way.

Once you receive medical attention, it is vital to contact an experienced car accident lawyer who can advise you, take steps to protect your rights and launch an immediate investigation.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we specialize in representing clients in personal injury cases in Boston and across Massachusetts. As part of our practice, our attorneys represent clients who have been injured in car crashes, including in cases involving drunk driving and liquor liability.

We wish you a safe holiday season. We hope you are never injured, but if you are, it is important to learn your legal rights.

For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck and review the facts of what happened with one of our attorneys. Call 800-379-1244 or use our contact form.