Celebrating Responsibly and Safely

New Year CelebrationDecember 31st is a marker day for many Indiana residents.  It is the perfect time to reflect on the year gone by, the next twelve months, and endless possibilities.  Many people form determined lists of good intentioned resolutions to make the next year the best one yet. People vow to lose weight, save money, exercise regularly, and many more goals.

Unfortunately, many choose to end their old year and begin their new with unrestrained celebration, a long night that leads into the new day, and heavy amounts of alcohol.  This is usually a combination that results in errors in judgement, reckless decision making, and an increased risk of accidents and injuries.

The Center for Disease Control notes that in 2013 more than 10,000 people were killed in alcohol related crashes.  This is nearly 31% of all automotive fatalities. That’s 30 people every single day – one death every 51 minutes.  The impact of these impaired driving deaths is more than the sorrow and pain of the survivors and family members of those killed.  The impact on American society is also a huge financial burden, at an annual cost of more than $59 billion each year.

If a driver leaves a party under the influence of alcohol, they will find that Indiana laws are direct and to the point when it comes to drinking and driving.

If a celebrant is pulled over and suspected of driving while intoxicated, they can expect to be subjected to a breath test.  If they refuse, they automatically give up their license to drive for one year.  If they take the breath test and are found to be over the legal limit (.08%), they will be searched, handcuffed, and escorted to jail where they will stay until bail is posted.  Their car will be towed at the owner’s expense and will lose their license for a minimum of 30 days.

If an Indiana driver is found to be driving while intoxicated for the first time they will have severe penalties levied against them.  These include suspension of their license up to two years, a fine up to $5,000, court costs, and probation.  This is not the limit of the penalties but only a few of the punishments waiting.

For those arrested a second time, the penalties become more strict, including imprisonment for a minimum of five days or as long as three years, community service, a fine of $10,000, and license suspension up to two years.

A third offense results in jail time up to three years, a $10,000 fine, and a 10-year license suspension.

For those who choose to drive drunk, these penalties may seem harsh.  For those who have suffered the loss of a loved one at the hands of a drunk driver, they don’t even begin to cover the pain of the trauma and loss they’ve experienced.

For those who are hosting New Year’s parties and plan providing alcohol as part of the celebration, coordinate alternative transportation home for your guests, as in a local Taxi service.  Another alternative is to provide lodging for the night to ensure your guests are safe until morning.  Collect everyone’s keys at the beginning of the evening to ensure no one slips out mid-evening.  You can also provide door prizes and gifts for anyone who agrees to be a designated driver for the evening, as a way of thanking them for their service to their friends.

There is no reason to end the old year on the wrong note.  And a good decision can be the first step to a better journey in the New Year.

The Indiana personal injury attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent those who’ve been injured due to the thoughtless and reckless decision of a drunk driver.  If you or a loved one has suffered injuries, or even death, because of a drunk driver, we invite you to contact our firm today.  They are experienced in protecting the rights of victims throughout Indiana.