On average, 28 people die per day from drunk driving. What’s more, accidents involving alcohol consumption cost over $59 billion annually, and many drivers still incur the costly penalties and legal proceedings of a DUI while driving with a BAC under 0.08.
Simply put: things need to change. A great deal of money–and peoples lives!–are at stake. Here are a few strategies to curtail drunk driving.
Use Public Transport!
In the age of Uber and Lyft, there is no excuse to get behind the wheel after too many drinks! Download the apps on your phone. Create a login and save your home address and payment information. Have everything ready to go in the event that you need a ride. In some cases, public transportation can be even more reliable than a designated driver. While some DDs will avoid drinking altogether, others drink moderately and do not always cut themselves off when they should.
Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) endorse ride-sharing and heavily encourage it. In places where people are utilizing these services, there are fewer alcohol-related crashes.
Know The Consequences
Another way to stay motivated to keep off the roads–and others can stay motivated too–is to learn the full extent of the consequences. Even a single DUI comes at a high price point. For example, in Arizona, a lawyer and court proceedings may cost $2,500 (or more!), legally required ignition interlock devices (IIDs) average $1,000 and up, and counseling and classes following a DUI are about $500. That’s considerably more pricey than an Uber, taxi, or even paying a parking ticket if it comes to that.
A DUI will result in jail time, fines, community service, a full or partial license revocation, and the mandatory installation of an IID for two years. IIDs work by preventing you from starting the vehicle–interrupting the connection between the starter and engine–following nearly any consumption of alcohol (typically if you register a BAC of 0.02 or higher). While these are required after DUIs for now, keep in mind that there are motions to make IIDs built-in to all vehicles. If and when that happens, drivers likely will not be able to start their cars if they reach a BAC of 0.03 to 0.04.
Plan Ahead–And Be Smart About It
If you plan to drink at a bar or restaurant, do it wisely–and with extreme care. Know that five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, and a one-and-a-half ounce shot all contain the same amount of alcohol and constitute one serving. In other words, if you get a margarita or martini, remember it’s highly likely that your drink contains more than one serving of alcohol.
Remember that your BAC will continue to rise after you finish drinking, and do not drive if you think it may be over the limit. Similarly, remember that breathalyzers are highly sensitive. Drink well below the legal limit to be safe.
Finally, use common sense! Don’t be pressured into having “just one more.” Don’t play drinking games. Do not drink on an empty stomach. Drink plenty of water. Avoid punches and pre-mixed cocktails. In fact, avoid any drink that might make it difficult to accurately determine how many drinks you have had.
If you ever wondered why the drinking age is 21–not 18 or younger–the reason is that it saves lives. According to U.S. News, enforcing a drinking age of 21 saves 900 people every year. Still, that isn’t enough.
People continue getting behind the wheel, reasoning that they are just “buzzed” or can somehow magically avoid tragedy. Don’t risk becoming a statistic. Use public transportation, weigh the high costs of a DUI, and–if you do drink while out–keep it to an absolute minimum.