The holiday season is a time to be with loved ones and friends. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when many people are injured or killed due to impaired driving.
A 2022 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) examined alcohol and drug use in serious and fatal crashes. The study found that 56% of seriously or fatally injured drivers tested positive for alcohol or drugs. According to the report, two or more drugs were reported in 18% of cases with severe injuries and 32% of the fatalities. Drivers were found impaired with a variety of substances, the most prevalent being cannabinoids (25%), alcohol (23%), stimulants (11%), and opioids (9%).
Both alcohol and drugs can alter areas of the brain that are essential to operating a vehicle safely. Those areas that can be changed impair people’s way of thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination.
The NHTSA warns even some prescription and over-the-counter medicines can cause side effects like drowsiness and dizziness, so it’s best to read the labels before getting behind the wheel.
In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, driving impaired by alcohol or drugs is illegal. The NHTSA urges drivers never to drive drunk or high to avoid tragedies during the holiday and year-round. Remember, even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, it could still be considered “buzzed driving,” so it’s best to designate a sober driver, use a ride service, or call a taxi.
If you see someone impaired that is about to drive, try to take their keys away and make arrangements for them to get home another way. If you see an impaired driver on the road, take their license plate down and call 911 immediately.
What happens if I’m caught driving impaired?
Because driving impaired is illegal nationwide, charges could range from misdemeanors to felony offenses, depending on your state. In addition, a person convicted of impaired driving could have their driver’s license revoked and face jail time. The NHTSA reports that a first-time offense can cost a driver up to $10,000 in fines and legal fees.
How would an impaired driving offense impact my car insurance premium?
A DUI or OUI charge will most likely cause your auto insurance rate to rise significantly because you would now be considered a high-risk driver. Insurance companies like MAPFRE evaluate risk levels when calculating annual car insurance premiums. Some violations that can cause rate increases include:
- Driving or operating under the influence (alcohol or drugs)
- Distracted driving
- Texting and driving
- Talking on the phone while driving
- Driving without a seatbelt
- Failure to stop
- Making an improper turn or failing to yield
- Reckless driving
- Careless driving
- Illegally or improperly passing another driver
- Following another driver too closely
Keep in mind, if you are charged with impaired driving, not only could lose your license, but you could also be denied insurance coverage or have your insurance non-renewed.
We hope you found these tips helpful. Enjoy the holiday season, but plan to get to your destination safely!
And if you need help reviewing your auto insurance policy, an independent agent in your state can always check to make sure you have the right coverage suited to your individualized needs. If you’re not yet insured with MAPFRE in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you can always get a fast, free quote today on your Massachusetts car insurance policy.