Every 31 minutes someone is killed in an alcohol-related accident. In fact Americans who drink and drive after holiday parties and celebrations make the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s one of the year’s most deadly and dangerous seasons due to alcohol-related crashes. This is a main reason why since 1981, every President of the United States has demonstrated his commitment to preventing impaired driving by proclaiming December as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.
In addition to sobriety check points during the holiday season, law enforcement has some new technology to fight the battle of drunk drivers. First-time offenders can watch for new flashlights and breath test machines. Many cities, including Newport Beach and San Diego have received grants this year to install more checkpoints during the holiday season as well.
Alcohol sensing flashlights are similar in appearance to ordinary lights that police officer’s carry but contain sensors that can detect alcohol on a person’s breath when being used. When a person breathes in the area of the light, a green light on the flashlight indicates the detection of a small amount of alcohol, while a red light indicates a particular odor. Police then use that as an indicator whether to conduct a field sobriety test. These lights are not admissible in court as evidence and are still in the test phase.
Portable breath test machine such as the Intoxilyzer 8000 are now being used. The officer can administer the test on the scene and this will be admissible as evidence in court. This is more high-tech than previous breath testers and will more accurately measure your blood alcohol level.
According to California statistics, each year nearly 130,000 persons are arrested for driving under the influence or DUI. Of those, nearly a third were repeat offenders. A fairly new tool California and many other states is using is the ignition interlock device. Basically it is attached to your car and you must breathe into it to start your car. If the machine detects alcohol, it won’t start. Once underway, the driver must continue to breathe into the machine to ensure uninhibited driving. Should it detect alcohol at any point, the car’s alarm system will activate to notify police, and in some newer cases the car’s engine may even shut down automatically.
A DUI arrest in the State of California means automatic suspension of your license; impound of your car, higher insurance and maybe some jail time. It’s just not worth the aggravation. If you are convicted, it is mandatory that your car will have some type of ignition interlock device placed in your automobile. Not exactly the “added feature” one would like in the car.
To avoid getting a DUI this season, follow these few driving safety tips:
· Don’t even think about getting behind the wheel of your vehicle if you’ve been out drinking · Call a taxi or use mass transit! Or how about getting a sober friend or family member to come and get you · If you are able, stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober. Many office parties are held in hotels for this reason · If you’re hosting a party this season, make sure your guests do not drive intoxicated.
It’s not just a cliché saying, “Friends don’t let other friends drive drunk. It is your responsibility to potentially avoid a serious accident or worse. Keep your holiday memories safe.