Stay sober on the road over the holidays

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 14, 2015

 Partiers have a number of options for getting a ride these days, such as Uber’s ridesharing service.

Partiers have a number of options for getting a ride these days, such as Uber’s ridesharing service.

Photo by Prathan Chorruangsak / Shutterstock

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Whether you choose to make a toast to the holidays or not, police and driving safety experts say that preventing drunken driving is something that everyone should celebrate.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said police plan to be very vigilant in spotting drunken drivers on the road and arresting them. He said while he has no problem with people celebrating and having fun, police are “not at all for mixing alcohol and driving.”

Under the influence, drivers pose a danger not just to themselves but everyone else on the road, he explained.

 “We’re piloting a multiple-thousand-pound deadly object,” he said. “Without proper attention to that and proper skill — which is greatly diminished by alcohol — you’re putting yourself and other people in danger.”

In Michigan, the legal threshold that determines drunken driving is a 0.08 blood alcohol content level, though police may also make an arrest upon other signs of intoxication. A zero-tolerance law is in effect for drivers under 21, and extra penalties can follow those who drive with a BAC of 0.17 or higher. Drivers who are cited for drunken driving may be punished with jail, fines, license suspension or revocation and more.

“It varies depending on the judge’s determination,” Bouchard said. “The baseline is a loss of your license, a huge increase in your insurance (rates), and many thousands of (dollars in) associated costs.”

In order to avoid risking lives and running afoul of the law, Bouchard advised drivers who are attending holiday gatherings to plan in advance if they plan to drink. A designated driver or a taxicab are two ways to arrive home safely, he said.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is also stepping into action to warn drinkers against operating a car and to pursue alternative transportation options.

Tyler MacEachran, program director for MADD Michigan, said the season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve is a common time for drunken driving crashes. He said drunken driving arrests have recently dipped slightly in Michigan, but he said some of that could be due to police downsizing. 

“Drunk driving arrests and processing can take up to four hours from the point they pull someone over and when they get them locked up,” he said. “(Police) are doing a fantastic job, but they have less resources.”

MacEachran said partiers have a number of options for getting a ride these days, such as Uber’s ridesharing service. 

“A lot of people these days are equating services like Uber with an affordable designated driver,” he said. “You don’t have to have one of your friends or family members take one for the team.”

Learn more about the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office by visiting www.oakgov.com/sheriff or by calling (248) 858-5000. Learn more about Mothers Against Drunk Driving by visiting www.madd.org.

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