Prevent Drunk Driving Incidents During the Holidays

November 18, 2016

The holidays are coming - and so are some of the most dangerous days for drivers and pedestrians. The combination of increased alcohol consumption thanks to holiday parties, early darkness and icier weather make the holidays a deadly time for hundreds of people every year. 

Historically, an average of 25 people a day are killed in DUI-related incidents in December. Fatalities spike every year around Christmas, New Years and the July 4th holidays.

For pedestrians, New Years Day is the second deadliest day of the year, thanks to drunk drivers, with the annual single day fatality rate exceed only by Halloween.  

The tragedy is that drunk driving incidents are preventable - with a little bit of planning, due diligence, and assertiveness on the part of responsible people.  

 

For Party Hosts

Those who host holiday parties have particular responsibility to do what they can to prevent drunk driving incidents. At least 44 states have developed social host liability laws that potentially hold party hosts liable for damages caused by intoxicated people leaving their parties behind the wheel. You can help prevent liability, though, by taking reasonable and prudent steps to help prevent drunk driving at your event. Here are some specific actions you can take to prevent DUI incidents:

  • Have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available. 
  • Place the bar or keg out of the way. Alcohol shouldn't be the main attraction.
  • Use small cups.
  • Have food available.
  • Avoid salty snacks. Salt makes people drink more.
  • Have a 'key collection point.' Toward the end of the party, station yourself by the keys. This will force all your guests to check in with you before they leave.
  • Stop serving alcohol 1-2 hours before the party ends.
  • Don't serve alcohol to people who are already visibly drunk.
  • Plan to have people sleep overnight.
  • Consider renting a van for the night, and providing a safe ride home for your guests yourself.
  • Have a caterer run the bar, and allow people to buy their own drinks, rather than host it yourself. This provides a layer of liability insulation between you and any damage your inebriated guest may cause. You will also have a sober and professional bartender available to politely decline selling the drink and offer a soda instead.
  • Consider a 'dry party.'

For a state-by-state breakout on social host liability laws and how they may affect you as the host of a party or gathering, click here.


Insurance Considerations

Before you hold your party, check your homeowner's insurance policy. Make sure it's in force and the liability limits are accurate. You may want to beef up this basic liability coverage with a general umbrella liability insurance policy. Umbrella liability picks up where your other basic insurance policies, including homeowner's insurance, renter's insurance and auto insurance leave off, providing substantial protection for you against catastrophic injuries and property damage your inebriated guests may cause - and potentially result in plaintiff's attorneys looking to you, the party host, and your insurance carriers for compensation.

Tip: If the event is fairly large, consider purchasing special event insurance, which helps protect the organizers and hosts of larger events that may involve scores or hundreds of people.

Ask your broker about this form of coverage.


For Party-Goers

  • Agree ahead of time on who will be driving. That individual should abstain from drinking throughout the night, ideally.
  • Make use of a number of innovative mobile device apps that have been developed, just within the last few years. For example:

IntelliDrink - Available for iOS devices, Intellidrink lets you track your alcohol intake and helps you estimate your blood alcohol content based on your height, weight and sex. The app can tell you, based on your alcohol intake and when you stop drinking, roughly when your BAC can be expected to drop below 0.08, the legal limit in most jurisdictions.

Intellidrink has a dual input function, so you can track alcohol consumption for yourself and a friend. The cost is $2.99, available here.

Alcudroid Alcohol Tracker - This program has a similar function to Intellidrink, but is designed to work on the Android platform.  Named a Top Alcoholism App of 2015 by HealthLine.com, the Alcudroid lets you chart your drinking habits by the day, week or month. It also supports U.S., imperial and metric units and of course calculates an estimate of your blood alcohol content. 

Additionally, the Alcudroid helps you track what you spend on alcohol over time as well. Available for Android here.

SaferRide - Too drunk to drive also means too drunk to operate complicated apps. That's why National Transportation Safety Administration developed the SaferRide. This easy, to use, intuitive app features a simple, three button interface that's so simple, you can operate it even after a very big night. Click on the "Get Taxi" button and the app will provide a list of local cab companies that you can call with one click.  Click on "Call friend" and it will automatically call the friend you designated when you set up the app. You don't even have to stab at the numbers to dial someone.
It even has a "where am I?" button.
The SaferRide app is available for Windows, Android and iOS devices, and is free.

  • Contact the Sober Ride Program. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a nationwide database of such programs. You can find a state-by-state listing here.
  • Call a taxi. In many markets, 444-4444 gets you a taxi dispatcher. Or you can use a mobile-phone app such as Cabzilla, TaxiHail or Curb.
  • Consider a ride-sharing service. Availability varies, depending on the market, but popular options include:

Lyft
Uber
Hailo