Summer is the favorite time of year for many people: school is out, vacations are underway, and some of the country’s most celebrated holidays are during the summer as well. However, many of us see summer as a time to let loose and relax, sometimes with an alcoholic beverage. There are those that are irresponsible and take matters too far, engaging in drunk driving. With everyone out either travelling for vacation or visiting family and friends, the risks of getting arrested for a DUI during the summer increases, as well as making the roads a lot more dangerous.
Summer is the season for DUIs, particularly the month of July, when there are more DUI fatalities than any other month. In fact, the majority of DUI-related accidents happen between the months of May and September. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the week leading up to the Fourth of July is the deadliest, with over 200 DUI fatalities on average. Furthermore:
- DUI fatalities occur 100 percent above the baseline average, which is second to New Year’s Day DUI fatalities, which is 129 percent above the baseline average compared to the rest of the year.
- Fatal DUI crashes happen 3.4 times more frequently at night as they do during the day.
- Three of the top five most dangerous DUI holidays of the year are during the summer: Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Memorial Day are among New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving. DUI fatalities happen 61 percent higher than the average day during Labor Day, while Memorial Day DUI fatalities happen 54 percent higher than the average day.
- The most dangerous day of the week in terms of DUI fatalities is Saturday, with over 24 percent of all weekly DUI fatalities, followed closely behind by Sunday at just over 21 percent. Tuesdays see the least amount of DUI fatalities at nine percent.
- The most dangerous week for DUI fatalities is the week leading up to Independence Day, followed by the weeks of August 1st and August 8th, as summer travel is in full swing during those weeks.
- According to the NHTSA, 27 percent of drivers charged with a DUI are between the ages of 21 and 24, with the majority being male.
There are many reasons that there is an increase in DUIs during the summer. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), all criminal offenses see an increase of 12 percent during the summer. The increase of DUIs during the summer is dramatic, especially when compared to other parts of the year. Some reasons for the increase in DUIs during the summer include:
- Nighttime accidents: According to the NCVS, over half of car accidents that occur at night are DUI-related. Many people forgo sleep during the summertime because school is out, the daytime is longer, and lots of people like to stay out partying when they have the time off.
- Social drinking: There are different reasons why people binge drink while in a social setting, such as social anxiety or peer pressure. During the summer, groups of people normally come together because most people have more time, increasing the chances of binge drinking.
- Underage drinking: With school out, many high schoolers and young college kids are going to spend their time off with each other, sometimes trying alcohol. Unfortunately, this also means a lot of underage drinking; in fact, the summer is also considered the most dangerous time of year for teenage drivers, as combining their inexperience behind the wheel and alcohol will ultimately lead to disastrous results. Teen drunk driving fatalities increase by 25 percent during the summer months.
- Clearer weather: Since the weather is generally clearer and sunnier during the summer, many people find it easier to drive. Unfortunately, the optimal driving conditions lulls drivers into a sense of comfortability, and they may lower their focus. Their judgement may also be marred, as they may think they are okay to drive even after a few drinks.
- Increased law enforcement: Law enforcement is fully aware that the number of drunk drivers increase during the summer, and they are prepared. There is a much larger police presence on the road, especially during the three major summer holidays, as well as more sobriety checkpoints.
How to Avoid a DUI Arrest?
Put simply, the best way to avoid getting a DUI is to not drink and drive. Here are some other ways to avoid a DUI arrest:
- Assign a designated driver: Plan ahead of time to designate a friend or family member the designated driver, meaning a driver who can take you home who has not had any alcohol to drink. Confirm with that person that they are okay with staying sober and taking everyone home.
- Plan for alternate transportation: Never get behind the wheel after having an alcoholic drink, no matter how many you have had. You have many options to get home safe without getting behind the wheel yourself, including public transportation, taxi service, or a ridesharing app like Uber or Lyft.
- Host the event: Instead of going out to celebrate, consider having the event or party at your own home. Of course, you want to make sure your guests get home safely as well; if someone is having a drink be sure to get their keys or offer them to stay the night. Stop serving alcohol hours before the party ends and offer plenty of food and water to your guests.
- Eliminate distractions: Distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, and it looks like to other drivers you are drunk even if you are sober. Always keep your eyes and focus on the road and put your phone away.
How to Protect Yourself from Drunk Drivers?
Here are some ways to protect yourself and your family from drunk drivers this summer:
- Buckle up: Always wear a seatbelt and be sure your passengers do as well, especially children, who should be in their correct car seat and restrained properly. Seatbelts save lives and is perhaps the best defense against drunk drivers.
- Defensive driving: Defensive driving involves anticipating another driver’s move and keeping your distance from them as best as possible. If you notice a drunk driver near you, slow down and stay away. If they are driving aggressively, pull to the side and let them pass you, and contact the authorities as soon as you can.
- Stay home: Because the majority of car accidents and drunk driving fatalities happen at night, normally between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., try to stay home before the daylight ends whenever possible.
- Be alert: If you are out at night or during the summer holidays, be extra cautious in places where drunk drivers are likely to make a mistake, such as an intersection where they could run the light or stop sign. Do not cross any intersection unless it is clear, and you are sure other cars are stopped.
There are perhaps countless consequences when it comes to drunk driving, particularly if a drunk driving accident led to a serious injury or death. There is an emotional cost to drunk driving, but there is also a monetary cost as well. Drunk driving costs the nation’s economy over $130 billion a year, and much of that cost is from taxpayers, not the drunk drivers.
A DUI can also cost a first-time DUI offender up to $10,000 in fines, penalties, legal fees, and higher insurance costs. A DUI offense will likely increase your insurance premiums, not to mention a stain on your driving record and, at times, your permanent record.
If you blood alcohol content (BAC) is found to be over .08 percent, which is the legal limit in New Jersey and other states, you will likely face many fines and penalties, including:
- Loss of driving privileges from 3 months up to ten years depending on severity of the offense.
- First time offenders could face at least 12 hours of jail time and no more than 30 days, as well as up to $400 in fines, and forfeiture of driving license for at least seven months.
- Second time offenders could face a maximum of $1000 in fines, 30 days of community service, prison time for a maximum of 90 days, and a minimum 2-year driver’s license suspension.
- Third time offenders face penalties that increase in severity: a minimum of $1,000 in fines, 180 days in prison, and a 10-year driver’s license suspension.
The Freehold DUI Lawyers at Ellis Law Help Drivers Facing DUI Charges
A DUI is a serious charge, and dealing with the fallout of such a charge can be overwhelming. If you are charged with driving under the influence, contact our experienced Freehold DUI lawyers at Ellis Law. Call us today at 732-308-0200 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With our offices located in Freehold, New Jersey, we proudly serve all communities of Freehold, Asbury Park, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Long Branch, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Monmouth County, Marlboro, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York City.