It’s the holidays – a time to celebrate and relax with family and friends and enjoy the holiday spirit… and, often, spirits. Unfortunately, the holidays are ruined for many Minnesotans every year due to a single root cause: drunk driving.
The US Department of Transportation estimates that about 300 Americans die each year in the days surrounding Christmas and New Year – far more than any other time of year.
To prevent drunk driving, law enforcement has an increased presence all over the country, meaning that DWI arrests also skyrocket. Minnesota is no different.
This matters, because even a first-time DWI conviction has grave legal and civil consequences. You can expect for your license to be suspended for at least 90 days, and potentially for up to one year. You may even have your license plates impounded, or be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. Moreover, you’ll be left with a criminal record that could compromise nearly every aspect of your life.
However, by planning ahead you can not only avoid a DWI, but also stop yourself from placing other motorists and passengers at risk for serious injury or death in a drunk driving accident. To that end, we’ve put together a guide for how to prevent a holiday Minnesota DWI.
Why DWIs Increase During the Holidays
More Americans drive drunk around the holidays than any other time of year. This means that police are out in force to catch drunk drivers. The combined effect is a dramatic uptick in DWI arrests in December and early January.
There are a number of reasons drunk driving increases over the holidays:
- Drinking is customary around many winter holidays, which increases alcohol consumption.
- People have more days off work, and therefore are more likely to go out with friends or family and drink in the evening.
- Many people only drink around the holidays, so have a lower tolerance to alcohol, and may not be as aware of how intoxicated they are before hitting the road.
- People with drinking problems also drink more around the holidays because others are drinking, and they are more likely to engage in risky behavior such as driving drunk.
How to Avoid a Holiday DWI in Minnesota
Fortunately, you can prevent a holiday DWI by making arrangements to avoid getting behind the wheel intoxicated.
Have a plan. Making a plan ahead of time – while you’re sober – is the best preventative measure against a DWI (beyond, of course, not drinking at all).
If you wait until the end of the evening to figure out how you’re going to get home, you’ll be impaired, and making arrangements for getting home will be more difficult. Further, you’re more likely to take the risk of driving drunk if you’re impaired.
DWI Apps. There are a number of apps geared towards helping people avoid getting on the road drunk. These apps can help you make a plan to get home ahead of time, call a ride when you’re too impaired to drive, or even estimate your BAC.
Always remember, though, that an estimate is just that – an estimate. The best way to check your BAC is by using a portable breathalyzer.
Book a hotel or sleep over. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is stay overnight where you are, then drive home safely in the morning. You can do this by booking a hotel that’s close by, or if the party is at a family or friend’s house, asking to stay overnight. Either way, be sure to arrange this ahead of time.
Select a reliable designated driver. If you’re going out with a group of friends, you can designate one person as the sober driver to ensure that everyone gets home safe.
The bottom line is that by having a plan in place, you can enjoy holiday festivities and avoid the possibility of legal trouble, and that of hurting yourself or others in a drunk driving accident.
About the Author:
A former prosecutor and lifelong Minnesotan, Christian Peterson has handled hundreds of criminal cases from both sides of the aisle since he began practicing law in 2006, as well as a wide variety of family law matters. This background allows him to look at situations from all angles and anticipate which arguments the other side may use, increasing his clients’ chances of success. His work has been recognized by the American Society of Legal Advocates, the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and National Trial Lawyers, and he has a perfect 10/10 rating from Avvo.