Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the most-celebrated holidays in the United States. During the winter holiday season, people attend more work parties, family functions, and other social events than any other time of the year. After attending those events, people need a way to get home. Most of them drive, and some of them drive under the influence. The government knows this, so DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) enforcement is intensified during this time of the year.
Impaired Driving Increases During the Winter Holidays
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), impaired driving is more prevalent during the holidays. For the last year data is available (2021), 1,013 people died in drunk driving crashes. That is the highest total since 2007. With Christmas and New Year’s Eve being two of the most dangerous times on the roads, President Biden proclaimed December of 2023 as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.
OVI Enforcement Increases During the Winter Holidays
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is running its annual campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, from December 14 through January 1. NHTSA states, “you’ll likely see more law enforcement on the roads” as “law enforcement will be stepping up patrols to get impaired drivers off the roads”. One of NHTSA’s social media posts says, “Drink and drive and you’ll see more than holiday lights”.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol confirmed it will have an increased presence during this time, particularly from December 22 through December 25. During that four-day period last year, troopers arrested 58 people for operating a vehicle under the influence. Local law enforcement agencies in Ohio will also have more officers patrolling Ohio roads with the purpose of detecting and arresting impaired drivers.
Marijuana-Impaired Driving is Targeted This Year
Along with the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over initiative, NHTSA is simultaneously running a campaign about marijuana-impaired driving: Drive High, Get a DUI. The agency runs the campaign to educate Americans about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs, with an emphasis on marijuana. In Ohio, increasing numbers of law enforcement officers have been trained to investigate drugged driving, including impairment from marijuana. Those officers will be on the lookout for marijuana-impaired drivers during the winter holiday season.
Avoid an OVI This Season
To avoid the dangers associated with impaired driving, NHTSA makes the following recommendations:
- Never drink and drive.
- If you’re planning to use marijuana or any impairing drug, do not drive.
- Designate a sober driver or call a ridesharing service or taxi.
- Don’t let someone get behind the wheel if that person has been drinking.
- Passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. If you think a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car.
- If you have a friend who is about to drive while impaired, take the keys away and arrange to get them home safely.
- If you’re hosting a gathering, make sure everyone has a sober ride home.
We concur with NHTSA’s recommendations. We can also confirm, anecdotally, that more people contact us for DUI/OVI defense during this time of year. Have a safe holiday season.