As the end of 2018 approaches, many people will be traveling to, from, and through Virginia on their way to visit family or return home from school vacations. When celebrating the holidays and New Year's Eve, a lot of people will enjoy a drink or two. Unfortunately, at the end of the celebration, people still need to find a way home. Having too much to drink and driving home can increase the risk of a winter holiday DUI.
Higher DUI Rates Over Holidays
Not all days are equal when it comes to drunk driving accidents and arrests. Higher rates of DUIs generally occur over certain holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.
Over the recent Thanksgiving weekend, the Virginia State Police reported that between Wednesday, November 21st and Sunday, November 25th, 12 people were killed in 11 traffic accidents. Law enforcement is well aware of the increased rates of impaired driving over these holiday weekends and often increase patrols to keep an eye out for suspected drunk drivers.
According to the Virginia Traffic Records Management, Reporting and Analysis Division, during New Year's last year (2017-2018), out of 396 crashes, 76 crashes were alcohol-related. Of those alcohol-related accidents in Virginia, 42 people were injured and three people died.
As winter break approaches, the police and State Patrol will again be on the lookout for impaired driving.
Winter Weather and DUIs
One of the reasons the holiday season is more dangerous for drivers is the weather. The days get shorter, leaving drivers in the dark for more hours of the day. Winter storms can drop freezing rain and snow, which makes for hazardous road conditions. Black ice on the roadways can be difficult to see for any drivers. Combining winter weather conditions with impaired driving only increases the risk of an accident.
Holiday Road Trips and DUIs
Other factors that contribute to dangerous driving conditions include drivers making long road trips to visit family and friends. When trying to squeeze a long drive into a busy schedule, drivers get tired and risk drowsy driving behind the wheel. A drink or two can increase the effects of lack of sleep, which could impair a driver's abilities without even reaching the over-the-limit BAC.
Forgotten Factors in Winter DUIs
Under ideal conditions, a driver may have no problem driving home after having a couple of drinks. However, when driving in adverse conditions or driving through an unfamiliar area, the driver's hesitation or driving style may alert law enforcement to conduct a traffic stop. Once a driver is pulled over, any sign or admission of alcohol consumption will often lead to an arrest.
Some factors people often fail to consider when combined with the effects of a couple of drinks include:
- Driving through an unfamiliar area or changes in traffic signals,
- Taking cold medicine combined with alcohol,
- Checking messages on the phone while driving, or
- Other reckless drivers on the road.
Charlottesville DUI Defense Attorney
As people drive home for Christmas or look to celebrate locally on New Year's Eve, police are on the lookout for impaired driving. If you or a loved one is arrested for a DUI or DWI during the winter holidays, you need to talk to an experienced Charlottesville DUI defense attorney about your case and how to keep your record clear. Contact attorney Thomas M. Wilson today for a free consultation.