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As the year begins to draw to a close, millions will be heading home or traveling for the holidays, and over 90% of us will be transported by car. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas are well known for holiday drinking leading to DUI arrests and fatalities on these already crowded highways and byways. Recent drunk driving statistics share some shocking numbers about alcohol, drinking, and driving during this otherwise grateful and festive time of year.

When thinking about purchasing Christmas gifts, many are aware of shopping the day after Turkey Day on Black Friday. However, Thanksgiving Eve is one of the biggest drinking nights of the year. Bars report an increase of 270% of the sale of beer and a 114% rise in hard liquor being purchased, and many areas near these taverns see a significant spike in DUI arrests, according to data collected by Upserve.

Here are a few sobering holiday drunk driving statistics:

  • Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, in 2017, 1443 people were killed due to drunk driving, according to MADD.
  • reports 47% of men and 40% of women say binge drinking is usually part of the New Year’s Eve holiday celebration.
  • Over 300 people have died between Christmas and New Year over the last five years, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Being a Part of the Solution

As the saying goes, become a part of the solution rather than engaging in the problem. When hosting a holiday feast for family and friends, be sure to offer plenty of alcohol-free choices on the drinking menu. There’s plenty of options available for beverages that are still festive and very tasty but won’t impair driving like:

  • “Mocktails” (or beverages that taste like traditional cocktails but don’t contain any alcohol) are becoming more popular at parties and other celebrations, so check out this list of over a dozen delicious recipes.
  • Sometimes called “near beer” or NA (non-alcoholic) suds have come a long way over the years, including many handcrafted flavors in a variety of different high-quality offerings of “ales.”
  • Sparkling ciders meant to mimic champagne are often made from apple juice, but there are also cranberry concoctions to consider that pair nicely with a roasted turkey and all the trimmings.

A Cautionary Tale for Chefs and Their Guests

The holiday season is a time of year when many are preparing dishes for these meals that are spiked with alcohol. While it’s a common belief it “will burn” off or dissipate during the cooking process, this notion has been proven to be false during a recent experiment. Armed with a breathalyzer, an editor from New Scientist ate several dishes, all of which had been sautéed, flambéed, or baked with booze.

In one case, after sampling a trifle made with a touch of sherry, a BAL of 0.02 was later revealed and increased to a level of “high” after consuming a rum-flambe chorizo dish. This amount reveals a level of impairment and could set off an ignition interlock device for the presence of alcohol. Be sure to warn your guests the yams you’ve baked were soaked in brandy, those chocolate-chip cookies contain Kahlua, or the rum cake was prepared using this ingredient.

The DD Drill

Carefully plan your holiday to ensure the safety of yourself and others around you. If you will be drinking secure a DD (Designated Driver). Be sure having a sober driver available when celebrating the holidays is at the very forefront of your plans.

If you’re looking for more tips on ways to safely enjoy the holidays, check out other articles on our blog. We’re here not only to assist with ignition interlock devices for those mandated to have them installed but also to help prevent these types of incidents from occurring in the future. So, in conclusion, here’s wishing everyone, their friends, and family a happy holiday season along with a prosperous New Year.

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