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Ring In the New Year Right!

The new year is a time for revelry and renewal—not for an arrest for driving under the influence of controlled substances (DUI). Now is the time to start considering your transportation options if you'll be going out to celebrate New Year's Eve, as even one drink can affect your judgement! After all, the penalties for DUI are getting harsher every year—and rightly so: roughly a third of motor vehicle fatalities involve an intoxicated driver, and the number is substantially higher during the winter holidays.

Earlier this month, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood highlighted the new "No Refusal" strategy that a number of states are employing to put an end to drunk driving. This tough new enforcement strategy allows law enforcement officers to quickly obtain warrants from "on call" judges in order to take blood samples from suspected intoxicated drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test. (The latest data show that the states with the highest refusal rates included New Hampshire at 81%, Massachusetts at 41%, Florida at 40%, Louisiana at 39%, and Ohio at 38%.) States that have adopted "No Refusal" programs report more guilty pleas, fewer trials, and more convictions.

What can you do to avoid a DUI—and, likely as not, save your life or the lives of others? Quite simply, you can avoid driving after you've consumed alcohol or other intoxicating substances. Some alternatives include:

  • Have a designated driver accompany your party.
  • Take a cab, bus, train, etc.
  • Call a sober friend for a ride home.
  • Stay overnight at or near where you are consuming.
  • Celebrate the New Year with activities that do not involve alcohol or drugs.

Another option: Some taxi services and auto clubs sponsor anti-DUI programs on New Year's Eve, but the details vary. Fortunately, there are still a few days left to investigate these services before you really need them.

So…be safe, be responsible, and don't drink and drive!