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Amateur Night

December 31, 2010

New Years Eve is referred by some as Amateur Night, the night when people who seldom drink, go out for a party and slide right past ‘good times’ directly to drunk-on-their-intoxicated-ass.  Unfortunately, some of these people will choose to drink and drive. Some of them will not survive the night. They might take a family of four with them or leave a child or two without one of their parents. Or maybe just end their celebration on the business end of handcuffs. Remember: Don’t drink and Drive!!

Let’s say you are invited out with friends to celebrate the New Year.  You might meet for a late dinner; have a couple of cocktails, maybe a hot toddy with dessert.  Then it’s off to a night spot for an evening of frivolity, and high times. You gather momentum in the spirit of the celebration and have a few too many.  So what is too many?

Since all 50 states recognize .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) as the legal limit, what does that relate to in quanity of drinks.  There are several calculators available which take into account your weight, gender, and consumption time to come up with a number.  A 200 pound man who drinks a six pack in two hours will have a BAC around .09%.  A women of 120 pounds would exceed the legal limit after only three beers in the same two hour span. You were well past that after the hot toddy and cheesecake.

The night wears on and at midnight you kiss the closest person and decide you should get going before you are too drunk to drive. Doing the math on your evening, a rough estimate of your BAC is .11%.  You think you can drive, yet legally you are intoxicated. You didn’t know that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) everyday on America’s highways 40% of all fatalities are in alcohol related accidents.  On New Year’s Eve and  New Year’s Day that number jumps to 60%, a full third higher. The law knows that.  That’s why Enforcement teams are out in droves on New Years with DUI/Sobriety checkpoints.

If you are fortunate, you will only get stopped at a checkpoint, (it beats going through the windshield at 60mph.) You feel okay, but the officer asks, “Sir, have you been drinking?” He steps you through a field sobriety test and although you didn’t seem impaired, the officer is prudent and has you blow into a field breathalyzer.  You are surprised when the results come back at a .10%, just over the legal limit.  Your life just changed immensely.  Here’s what you have to look forward to.

  • You are taken to jail to be booked and charged with DUI.
  • National average:  $5000 – $15,000 in fees and costs associated with DUI.
  • A blemish on your criminal record that could impact future employment opportunity.
  • Suspended drivers license for a period of time, possibly impacting your employment.
  • High risk driver insurance rates for anywhere from three to seven years.
  • Loss of income from going to court, education classes, community service.

That’s an expensive lesson in the economics of a DUI conviction. Remember – it could have been so much worse. Enjoy the New Year’s celebration, but be smart.  Don’t drive and drive. Have a designated driver, call a taxi, or take advantage of ‘Sober Rides’ if your community has that program in place.  Don’t end the night a statistic. Arrive alive in 2011.

*** Warning *** The following video depicts the harsh reality of driving impaired.

Courtesy of the Transport Accident Commision (TAC), Victoria, Austrailia.  On December 10, 1989, the first TAC public service commercial was broadcast.  That year there were 776 deaths on Victorian highways. By 2008 that had fallen to 303. During the twenty year span TAC has broadcast  over 150 iconic commercials designed to create a culture of safety awareness on the Victorian highways.  This short video is a montage of some of those commercials set to Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.

 



New Year’s Day is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. ~Mark Twain

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