Make safe rides home part of party planning

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 21, 2016

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METRO DETROIT — Whether the drink of choice is Christmas eggnog or New Year’s champagne, imbibers are being reminded once again to stay away from the steering wheel this holiday season.

Anne Readett, spokeswoman for the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, said traffic fatalities tend to rise around the end of the calendar year. 

“Despite the progress that we’ve made over many years, still about 30 percent of traffic fatalities are either drug- or alcohol-involved,” she added. “We still have a lot to do.”

She attributed this to many people going to office parties or gatherings of family or friends. Even if these situations are out of the ordinary, it’s up to partyers to plan in advance how they will get home safely without drinking and driving — be it calling a friend, a cab or spending the night.

Readett also asked party hosts to curb the risk of their guests becoming a danger  on the roads by offering nonalcoholic beverages and by stopping the service of alcoholic drinks well in advance of people going home.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said his department will have patrol vehicles dedicated to alcohol-related law enforcement during this season, and other patrol vehicles will also do their best to spot and cite drunken drivers to keep the roads safe. 

“We do all that we can to make the holiday a happy one for everybody,” he said. “Have a great time, celebrate. Drink if you’d like. Don’t mix it with driving.”

Bouchard recommended that people who might go to a party and drink should pick a designated driver or plan on using a ridesharing service like Uber. He explained that alcohol use diminishes reflexes, judgment, perception and other capabilities. And when on the road, those diminished abilities could have catastrophic consequences. 

“You’re basically driving something … at a speed that is in itself deadly unless it’s properly controlled,” he said.

Bouchard said the penalties for drunken driving may include the loss of one’s driving license and going to jail, which could impact career, financial status or insurance rates. 

“It’s going to have a huge detrimental effect on a lot of levels,” he said.

Find out more about the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office by visiting www.oakgov.com/sheriff or by calling (248) 858-5000. Reach the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning by visiting www.michigan.gov/ohsp.

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