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How Can I Avoid a DUI Charge on New Year’s Eve?

Posted on: December 22, 2021

New Year’s Eve can be a great time to celebrate with family and friends, but for far too many people, it involves poor decision-making. Drinking and driving is a known lethal combination, yet people still do it every day of the year even though it leads to car accidents, fatalities, license revocations, fines, increased insurance rates, and jail or prison time. Statistically, January 1 has been the day of the year that has the highest percentage of alcohol-related traffic deaths.

Approximately 140 lose their lives on the roads each year on New Year’s Day because of driving under the influence (DUI), compared with 28 dying every other day in alcohol-related accidents. Male motorists ages 21 to 24 are the most likely ones to be involved in drunk driving collisions, and 42 percent of New Year’s Eve car accidents are alcohol related. If you drive hungover the next morning and your blood alcohol content (BAC) is still elevated, that could lead to a DUI charge.

Tips for Avoiding DUI This New Year’s Eve

There is no reason for anyone to ever drive under the influence, but many times it is an unplanned, last-minute decision. Planning ahead of time is key for preventing drunk driving, but it also helps to understand the facts. If you think that you are fine after a few drinks, you may want to think again. You do not have to be over the legal limit of 0.08 BAC to get arrested, and after you have only one single drink, your judgement can be affected.

Even if you already have a designated driver or other arrangement, it makes sense to drink water and eat food when drinking alcohol. This slows the absorption and can keep you hydrated; it can also make the next day hangover less severe. The old one drink per hour rule is outdated and never really applied to everyone, anyway. A 6-foot-tall, 200-pound person can tolerate the effects of alcohol differently than someone who is 5 feet tall and 110 pounds. Set a limit beforehand and do your best to stick to it, alternating in between with water or seltzer.

What if I Am Going to a Party Where Alcohol Will Be Served?

Holiday parties can feel awkward if you do not know anyone, and drinking can help ease social inhibitions. When possible, try to bring a friend along or just limit your time there if you feel uncomfortable. If there are other intoxicating substances floating around the room, do not forget that these can significantly amplify the effects of alcohol and/or be illegal.

It can be hard to avoid overindulging at holiday parties, because the food and alcohol is flowing and many people may be in a mood to go crazy. Again, you can plan ahead to avoid ending up driving drunk. It might be a good idea to book a room at a nearby hotel or to stay over where the party takes place. If the event is at a good friend or a family member’s home, ask if you can stay over if that feels comfortable to you. Sometimes, partygoers who live close think that they can drink up because they only have short drives home. However, this is no guarantee that you will arrive home without getting into an accident. Remember, since it is a close drive, the rideshare service you hire will not cost you that much.

How Else Can I Prevent a New Year’s Eve DUI?

New Year’s Eve parties tend to lose steam after midnight, but hangers-on often continue drinking for hours afterwards. You can make a deal with yourself to leave the party early, and even set a reminder on your phone to go off at 12:15 a.m. or so. Offer to help your host clean up before you leave; that can put you in the right mindset to get moving.

If you have a designated driver, it is a good idea to keep a watch on them as the night progresses. Not everyone keeps this promise after they make it, and for all you know, your driver might end up being more intoxicated than you. You can contact a rideshare service, but remember that you may have to wait for them to arrive. Some offer reservation capabilities, so you might want to set it up early in the day before the party starts.

Driving on New Year’s Eve

A BAC of 0.08 percent is roughly one-and-a-half drinks, but this depends on your weight. There is also a zero tolerance for any alcohol when the driver is under the age of 21; this is grounds for arrest. Since law enforcement is on alert every New Year’s Eve, an officer might pull you over and have you take a breathalyzer test when you least expect it. There might also be checkpoints, which are legal, near popular bars and other well-traveled areas.

Here is another strong deterrent against DUI on New Year’s Eve: On this night, there is a larger police presence than on other nights of the year. Law enforcement officers are pretty much waiting to catch drunk drivers, and even if it is your first offense the penalties can be stiff; some fines cost thousands of dollars, and jail time ranges from a few days to six months. If someone get injured as a result of your poor choices, you might even be charged with a felony DUI; killing someone could incur reckless homicide charges. Is any of that worth it the risk?

Monmouth County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Ellis Law Advocate for Safe Driving This New Year’s Eve

It is not against the law to have drinks on New Year’s Eve, but drinking and driving can land you in jail with significant fines and penalties. If you need experienced legal counsel for a drunk driving offense, reach out to the knowledgeable Monmouth County criminal defense lawyers at Ellis Law. Our legal team is ready to help. For a free consultation, call us at 732-308-0200 or complete our online form. We are located in Freehold, New Jersey, and help clients throughout Freehold, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Monmouth County, Marlboro, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn, New York, and New York City.