The holiday season is meant to be a time of joy and celebration. Unfortunately, serious and fatal car accidents still happen at an alarming rate during this time.
Tragically, many of these collisions could have been prevented if someone hadn't made the reckless decision to drive drunk.
That's why many traffic safety groups have designated December as National Impaired Driving Awareness Month.
"The year-end holiday period from Thanksgiving through New Year's is always one of the most dangerous times on U.S. roads and highways," says the National Road Safety Foundation. This is why the organization wants people to know that "the increased risk comes from a combination of factors that include impairment from alcohol and drugs."
Drunk driving crashes spike during the holidays
For the past 39 years, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been warning people about the dangers of drunk driving during the holidays.
"Two of the most celebrated dates in December – Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve – are also among the most dangerous," says MADD, which is one of the organizations that has designated December as National Impaired Driving Awareness Month along with the National Safety Council (NSC).
Despite these concerted efforts, drunk driving remains a significant concern nationwide during the holiday period. Between 2017 and 2021, drunk drivers in December caused collisions that resulted in 4,500 car accident fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In December 2021 alone, 1,013 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes nationwide.
Are crashes involving alcohol a problem in Georgia?
A study conducted by ValuePenguin highlights Georgia as one of the top 10 states with a concerning frequency of deadly drunk driving accidents during Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Specifically, the state witnessed a significant contribution to national holiday fatalities, accounting for 3 percent of such deaths on Christmas and Thanksgiving. This statistic ranks Georgia as the 6th deadliest state in the country for these holidays.
The study focused on the period spanning from 2010 to 2018, during which Georgia reported 47 fatalities resulting from drunk driving accidents on Christmas and an additional 50 on Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately, the issue has intensified over the years. The most recent accident data compiled by the NHTSA reveals that 2021 marked a grim milestone, with more drunk driving accident fatalities in Georgia than in any of the preceding ten years.
What is being done to prevent drunk driving?
National Impaired Driving Awareness Month adopts a comprehensive approach, emphasizing both education and enforcement. Under the banner of "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," this initiative, led by the NHTSA, will collaborate with state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the duration of the program until January 1st.
As an essential part of this initiative, local and state law enforcement will actively educate drivers about the dangers associated with drunk driving.
Additionally, officers will be vigilant in identifying individuals exhibiting signs of driving under the influence, subsequently conducting traffic stops when necessary.
Drivers found to be potentially driving under the influence may face charges, further reinforcing the commitment to road safety.
How to avoid drunk driving during the holidays
Officials at MADD and other traffic safety organizations urge drivers to plan ahead before going out to celebrate with family and friends during the holiday season.
"We're asking everyone to take personal responsibility this holiday season by making a plan for a safe ride home before your celebrations begin," says MADD. "Designate a non-drinking, unimpaired driver. Take a taxi, a bus, or a train. Use a rideshare app like Uber. If you're a host, provide an alternative to your guests, such as festive, non-alcoholic drinks."
If you see a driver who appears to be intoxicated, call 911 immediately. Your call could save that driver's life and the lives of other motorists on the road.
Who pays for damages in a drunk driving crash?
Understanding how compensation works in the event of a crash involving a drunk driver is crucial. In Georgia, the state operates under an at-fault car insurance system, which dictates that the responsible party is accountable for covering all expenses related to the accident they caused.
Typically, this means that the at-fault driver's insurance company is responsible for settling your accident-related costs. Nevertheless, drunk driving accidents present a unique scenario compared to other cases.
Notably, depending on the circumstances surrounding your collision, you may have avenues for seeking financial compensation from alternative sources.
Specifically, if the impaired driver was already intoxicated when they purchased more alcohol and subsequently caused the collision, you may have grounds for pursuing legal action against the establishment that sold the alcohol to the driver responsible for your accident.
These legal actions are often referred to as dram shop claims, and they can be complex in nature. As such, it is critical to consult with a car accident attorney as soon as possible to review your potential legal options.
If you were hit by a drunk driver, we can help you demand justice
At the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, we are dedicated to pursuing justice and financial compensation for victims of drunk drivers who have sustained serious injuries or have lost loved ones.
Our dedicated legal team is committed to holding drunk drivers accountable for their actions, ensuring that our clients receive the support and financial compensation they deserve.
We will aggressively advocate for your rights and help you navigate the legal process to secure the best possible outcome for your case.
Our case results speak for themselves. Since our law firm was founded in 1993, we have recovered more than $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for Georgia families.
Discover what we can do for you. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with an Atlanta car accident attorney you can trust. We have offices conveniently located throughout Georgia.