Protecting Yourself and Others During Holiday Traveling

albany county car saying buzzed driving is drunk drivingDecember brings a sense of excitement because of the spirit and cheer that holidays such as Christmas and the new year bring to families across the nation. What many people fail to see is that they are approaching a few of the most dangerous days to be on the road due to drunk driving. In this period of merriment, where people get together to celebrate with their closest family and friends, no one wants to lose a loved one due to the carelessness of another human being. Many people try to calculate their blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) as a way of measuring their ability to drink. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) publication “Sober Driving during the Holidays,” there are many variables affecting your BAC. The only way to be sure you are driving safely is to have a BAC of zero. The best advice from the NHTSA is that if you have been drinking at all, then it is best not to risk your safety and drive.1 It is both illegal and unsafe to drive while under the influence of alcohol. Finding an alternative to driving while under the influence can benefit your physical well-being as well as helping you avoid the extremely high fines and serious penalties that result from driving while under the influence charges.

The Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) organization’s publication “Plan Ahead This New Year’s Eve” describes New Year’s Day as the most dangerous day of the year to be on the road. They emphasize the importance of designating a sober driver for the safety of both those drinking and those on the road around them. For those hosting New Year’s Eve parties, MADD suggests that they make sure that they don’t serve their guests too much alcohol as well as providing enough food so that their guests are not drinking on an empty stomach.2 There are many preventative steps that can be taken so that you can have a good time during these holidays without putting yourself or others in harm’s way. Many local police departments have taken initiative to create checkpoints and put more officers on duty so that there is a strong presence out patrolling the streets.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the few days surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Eve there are an average of 304 people that die as a result of drunk driving crashes.3 Many families are on the road traveling to and from various holiday celebrations. It is important that drivers be aware of the threats both to themselves and to the innocent passengers in the car with them. Due to these striking statistics, it is important that local communities work together for the sake of everyone’s safety, especially during the holiday season.

One community that is working hard to stop drivers from driving under the influence of alcohol is Albany County, New York. Last year marked their 30th annual “Stop DWI Safe Ride” program for New Year’s Eve. The program was created in 1982, allowing thousands of people to go out and enjoy the holiday without endangering themselves or others. The purpose of this program is to offer free, safe means of transportation to anyone in the area who has been drinking that night. Community members are encouraged to call the local police in Albany County to request a ride home during the hours between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. if they are impaired and would put others at risk driving home themselves. The Martin, Harding & Mazzotti law firm shows their dedication to keeping the members of their local community safe during the holidays by sponsoring this event. The Albany County sheriff described the importance of this program to Time Warner Cable News, saying: “It’s one thing to go out and enforce, but it’s our goal to find designated drivers, not drunk drivers, and we’ve been able to do that with partnerships such as Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, who has been able to keep those numbers down during the holiday season.”4 According to the Troy Record, the Albany County Police Department reported that during the 30 years that they have been running this program, there have been no alcohol-related fatalities in Albany County during that time period.5 This success rate is a shining example of how local police departments can work with the people of their communities to promote a safe environment for all.

The New Year is a holiday that brings people a chance for a fresh start. No one wants to start off their year injured in the hospital or in jail because of the negative effects of driving while under the influence of alcohol after a New Year’s Eve party. It is also important to remember that no one wants to lose a spouse, parent, aunt, uncle, child, or close friend due to the ignorance of someone who made the decision to drive when they knew that they had been drinking. We must look out for one another and make sure to call a taxi or ride for someone who we know should not be getting behind the wheel. The key is prevention and stopping someone before it is too late. As a community, we need to look out for one another to make sure that we all have the chance to enjoy ringing in the new year while making smart decisions. Wishing you a happy, healthy, and SAFE 2015!

Kayla Stravin
Special Contributor
The COPS Office


1 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Sober Driving During the Holidays,” Safety 1n Num3ers 1(9) (December 2013),
2 “Plan Ahead this New Year’s Eve,” Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), last modified December 28, 2012,
3 Ibid.
4 “Albany County once again offering Stop DWI Safe Ride Program,” Time Warner Cable News, last modified December 27, 2013,
5 “Albany County to offer free rides home for New Year’s revelers,” The Record, last modified December 28, 2013,

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