Christmas and the New Year are times of great celebration even in these difficult economic times. Still, people are always surprised by the number of Alabama motorists pulled over for driving while intoxicated during the season. As a Birmingham DUI defense lawyer and resident of these parts, I too see the results of alcohol use and motor vehicle operation on our roads. Understanding the consequences of driving under the influence, I can say without hesitation that DUI arrests can lead to convictions, which can adversely affect an individual's life and livelyhood.
If the Thanksgiving holidays were any example, it looks like this Christmas and New Year's Eve will present yet another opportunity for drunk driving enforcement patrols to catch those revelers who don't know when to quit. According to reports from Alabama's police agencies, there were 146 DUI arrests during the four days surrounding Thanksgiving last month. Additional figures included 28 alcohol-related wrecks resulting in six deaths on our state's highways.
From the beginning of the holiday enforcement period — Wednesday at 6pm — until midnight Sunday, November 29, police investigated 418 crashes; cited 3,532 motorists for speeding; gave out 943 tickets for seatbelt violations and 76 for child restraint violations.
With the usually high number of parties and festive gatherings going on during the upcoming holidays, it's important to remember that Alabama has one of the highest death rates due to drunk driving in the U.S. Based on a 2007 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, alcohol-related fatalities on the highways around the country tend to increase significantly during the holidays.
Nationwide, it's said that accidents due to alcohol consumption claim an average of about 45 lives each day during the days on either side of Christmas; while up to 54 deaths every day occur during the New Year's holiday. On average, that's more than a one-third increase in traffic deaths compared to the balance of the year.
Over indulgence during this joyous season can easily turn a festive occasion into a sad memory for the rest of one's life. My suggestion to all drivers is to use good judgment and have a safe and cheerful holiday.
Six people died in highway crashes in Alabama over holiday, AL.com, November 30, 2009