Each year, nearly 10,000 people are killed in drunk driving crashes. But the risk of sharing the road with a drunk driver is even higher on New Year’s Eve, according to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 40% of traffic-related deaths during New Year’s Eve involve drunk drivers — a 12% increase over the rest of the month of December.
“If you’re planning to go out, have a designated driver and just drink responsibly,” said Lieutenant Doug Debord of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Portsmouth Post. “People are usually pretty good about getting a designated driver on New Year’s Eve, but the only problem is that doesn’t carry over with the rest of the year.”
According to Debord, over the course of 2016 more than 1,000 drivers were arrested for operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) in Scioto County alone. In Ohio, law enforcement primarily use the term OVI (operating a vehicle under the influence) which is the same as a DUI (driving under the influence) in other states.
According to the National Safety Council, the average blood alcohol concentration on New Year’s Eve reaches .094 percent, well over the legal limit.
If you are over 21 years of age and your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and breath alcohol content (BrAC) is .08 or greater, you are considered to be operating a vehicle impaired. If you’re under 21 the limit is much lower, registering .02 for breath or blood can place you over the legal limit.
“Not only do you run the risk of killing someone else and possibly yourself, but there are a multitude of other consequences as well,” said Debord. “If you get arrested, your insurance rates basically quadruple and you have to provide a bond to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. There are other fees outside the court system that affect people’s pocketbooks if they get arrested for OVI.”
First time offenders face jail time between three days and six months, fines and penalties between $250 to $1,000 dollars with a license suspension of six months to three years. The penalties,fines and suspension terms increase with each offense. According to the National Safety Council, the average cost of an OVI when said and done is approximately $10,000.
Ohio also has an implied consent test, meaning, if you refuse to take the chemical test, you will be subject to a fine and automatic license suspension.
If you find yourself without a designated driver on New Year’s Eve, Portsmouth does offer a taxi service. For more information, please visit www.portsmouthtaxiservice.com or by calling 740-355-2222. If you are out of town, consider downloading the Uber or Lyft apps, similar to a taxi service, these apps help you connect with a ride right from your cell phone. You can also reserve a personal driver through the app Dryver, so you and your car make it home safely.
Here are some tips from Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for planning a safe New Year’s Eve:
- Designate a sober driver to make sure you—and everyone with you—arrive home safely this holiday season.
- Save the number of a local cab service in your phone prior to heading out.
- Consider hiring a shuttle or limousine service to transport you and your friends to and from your event.
- Arrange a hotel stay for you and your friends on the evening of the event so no one drives home impaired.
- Plan activities like party games or door prizes. Planned activities engage people, make for less active consumption of alcohol, and ensure that your friends remember the great event long after the last piece of confetti has settled.
- As guests RSVP, confirm that at least one person in each group is prepared to be the sober designated driver and/or has a plan to get home.
- Provide plenty of food to keep your guests from drinking on an empty stomach.
- Avoid too many salty snacks, which tend to make people thirsty and drink more.
- Offer non-alcoholic beverages or “mocktails” for designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol.
- If preparing an alcoholic punch, use a non-carbonated base, like fruit juice. Alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream faster with a carbonated base.
- Be prepared by having the number of a taxi service on hand for those who need a ride. Also, be ready with some clean linens so you can turn your sofa into a bed for guests who need to sleep it off.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.