Barbara A. Bowden

Tacoma, WA DUI Attorney

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Drinking and the Holidays in Washington

The holidays are here—a time of good cheer and fellowship with friends and family. From wine to beer and eggnog to buttered rum, many of us enjoy our favorite alcoholic beverages during the holidays. Unfortunately, drinking and driving do not mix regardless of the time of year.

Alcohol-Related Accidents and Deaths during the Holidays

Wine on TableThe statistics are clear: alcohol-related accidents and fatalities increase during the holidays.

  • Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is estimated that 25,000 people will be injured and 1,200 people will be killed in alcohol-related accidents.
  • Thirty-one percent of traffic deaths each year are alcohol-related; however, during the Christmas holiday, that rate increases to 37 percent, and during the New Year’s holiday, the rate increases to 58 percent.
  • During the holidays, 40 percent of traffic deaths are related to alcohol.
  • DUI violations increase by 33 percent during the holiday season with New Year’s Eve being the highest increase (155 percent increase in DUIs).
  • Ninety-six percent of people surveyed admitted to going to work hungover during the holidays. Fifty-seven percent of people admit to driving while under the influence during the holidays.

What are common misconceptions about types of alcohol?

Unfortunately, many people have common misconceptions about alcohol that contribute to the number of DUI violations during the holidays.

MYTH: Beer is not as intoxicating as liquor.

MYTH: Drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or turning on the air conditioner will sober you up faster.

MYTH: It is okay to drive after only a couple of drinks.

MYTH: Eating certain foods before drinking allows you to drink more before becoming legally intoxicated.

MYTH: If you can walk a straight line and stand on one foot, you are okay to drive.

TRUTH: Only time will sober you up because nothing you do will cause the alcohol in your system to metabolize any faster. Even one drink can impair your ability to drive.

What do you need to know about drinking and the holidays?

Approximately 40 percent of people who were polled admitted that they have friends and family members who use the holidays as an excuse to drink. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying your favorite alcoholic beverages during the holidays, it is dangerous to drive while impaired by alcohol. You are a danger to yourself and to others. It is also not illegal to become intoxicated during the holidays; however, it is illegal to drive in Washington while intoxicated.

In Washington, you can be convicted ofa DUI if your BAC is:

  • .08 or higher for anyone 21 years of age or older
  • .04 or higher for commercial vehicle drivers driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the stop
  • .02 or higher for anyone under the age of 21

Washington DUI laws are strict and the penalties for a DUI conviction in Washington are severe. Do not be sorry—be safe this holiday season!

When do you need a designated driver?

Always! The only way to avoid a drunk driving charge is not to drive after drinking. The safest way to enjoy alcohol during the holidays is to appoint a designated driver who will not consume any alcohol. You, your friends, and family can enjoy the holidays knowing that each of you will arrive home safe and sound. Assigning a designated driver is the responsible way to enjoy the holiday season.

Happy Holidays from The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden

We want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. If you are charged with DUI this holiday season, remember you are innocent until the state proves you guilty of driving under the influence. Contact our office to discuss your legal defenses to a Washington DUI charge.