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The holidays are a time of excitement and joy as families congregate from far distances to celebrate their traditions together. As we’ve previously discussed, the holiday season is also a dangerous time of year to be on the roads due to the numerous social events, which generally include consuming alcohol. Let’s face it, it’s a time when people feel compelled to drink even if they aren’t normally drinkers, and abusive drinkers have even more opportunities for just “one” more. The tragic fact is that in 2011, about 9,900 people were killed in alcohol related driving crashes. So, when you are considering getting behind that wheel after a night of celebrating, think again. You don’t want to be the one who destroys another life, as well as your own.

Also consider that there is a heightened awareness about drinking and driving this time of year. Law enforcement is out in full force trying to protect the general public from intoxicated drivers. Just this past Thanksgiving, a few examples include: West Virginia police arrested 44 people for DUI, Kansas Highway Patrol officers made 20 arrests, State Police in Connecticut made 43 DUI arrests, in Orange County, CA 59 people were arrested for suspected drunk driving, and 19 in Victorville, CA.

If you live in California, according to the State Justice Department, 214,828 DUI arrests were made in 2012. In Florida, DUI arrests totaled 61,852, Michigan was at 35,534 and North Carolina was at 49,599. If you are pulled over for drunk driving, you can expect to get taken to jail in a police car and someone will have to come down to the court house to get you, or you will be held for a designated period of time until you sober up. Then you will be given a court date in which you have to appear in front of a judge. If you are convicted based on things like the field sobriety test, blood test, the visuals from the police car dashboard camera or a Breathalyzer test, you will have your license suspended. This happens in every state even if it’s your first conviction. Think about how this will affect getting to work, taking the kids to school or doing any of your daily responsibilities that require transportation. People around you are bound to find out because you’ll be dropped off at work or need their help. Furthermore, you can also expect to pay a court fine. This coupled with the increase in your car insurance policy and the lawyer’s fees will cost you a hefty sum.

It’s not over yet. You can’t just pay your way out of the situation but have to then devote a designated amount of time to an alcohol education program. And, in 15 states including Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington you will have a mandatory ignition interlock device put on your car after you do regain your driving privilege.

All of this and you thankfully haven’t gotten in an accident or injured anyone else. It’s just not worth it. So, a good rule of thumb this holiday season is to find a designated driver, take a taxi or walk home if you’ve been drinking this holiday season!