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July 4th is a huge day of celebration in the United States. With this come beach parties, campouts, picnics, food, fireworks and often a day filled with sun and alcohol. Unfortunately, it’s become one of the deadliest days on our roads each year. According to NHTSA, from 2008-2012, 765 people were killed in the U.S. in crashes with drivers that had a BAC level of .08% or more. It’s also a time of year when we see an increase in underage male drivers bucking the rules and drinking and driving as well.

In a united effort to keep communities safe, law enforcement agencies across the country will be increasing the number of officers dedicated to DUI enforcement from July 3 – July 7th this year. We at the AJ Novick Group, Inc. tell you this with the intention of reminding you not to drink and drive this holiday weekend. If you plan on partaking, leave the car at home and take a walk instead!

Some advice to consider before the day begins:

1. Make a plan before you start drinking. Pick a designated driver who is truly committed to staying sober, have a taxi service number on hand so you don’t have to figure it out late at night, or have a family member or friend on call to come pick you up.

2. Check into local community sober ride programs. Simply type in Ride Safe programs, sober rides and even some local taxi services will have free services available. Uber will even be donating $1.00 to MADD for every ride taken between 6 a.m. on July 4th and 6 a.m. on July 5th.

3. Purposefully put your cell phone out of reach. The additional temptation is a recipe for disaster.

4. Be on the lookout for impaired drivers. Call the police and avoid driving in the vicinity if you notice someone tailgating, drifting in and out of traffic lanes, almost striking or actually striking any objects, swerving, off-roading or driving on the wrong side of the road.

If you feel like you are just a “little buzzed” you are still at risk and getting a DUI is no fun. The punishments vary throughout the country but you can generally expect a traffic fine of anywhere between $300 and $10,000 depending on the BAC level and any previous offenses. The cost of having your vehicle towed away and impounded until you can have someone get it – usually about $50.00 for towing and $100.00 per day for impound. Legal fees of anywhere from $2,000 - $8,000 based on where you live. Your insurance premiums will go up about $1,000 a year, if you aren’t cancelled altogether. And, the cost of in-person or online alcohol awareness classes. This too varies from an 8-hour class to a 3 month required class for license reinstatement in California. Aside from all the financial aspects of the bad decision, you’ll have to miss work for court appearances, have community service obligations and possible job loss if driving is required for your employment. It’s time consuming, embarrassing and a major hassle and that’s if you haven’t actually hurt anyone else in the process. Stay safe this Fourth of July and make a pledge to not get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking.