Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, December 30, 2011 Page: 19 of 44
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Drunken driving takes especially deadly toll during the holidays
Threat even greater for LGBTs, who
have higher rates of alcohol abuse
Momentum is building for the last blast
of the 2011 holiday season, but not
everyone should count on waking up
safe and sound in their own bed on New Year's
Day with the traditional celebratory hangover.
The more fortunate partygoers will find them-
selves on an old friend's sofa, in bed with a new
friend or even in a jail cell with a bunch of
strangers. But the less lucky won't be waking up
at all because they will be part of the year's statis-
tics on impaired driving fatalities.
That's why U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray
LaHood said he kicked off a nationwide crack-
down on impaired driving on Dec. 13 in an at-
tempt to remind Americans they risk killing others
or themselves if they get behind the wheel drunk
Impaired driving fatality statistics for 2010 re-
leased by the Department of Transportation's Na-
tional Highway Traffic Safety Administration
showed a decrease in many states in comparison
to the previous year, but 10,228, or one-third, of the
fatalities on American highways, still involved in-
The fatality statistics spiked during the second
half of December, when drinking traditionally be-
comes more prevalent apparently because of hol-
iday parties. The U.S.
National Institute on
Alcohol Abuse and
that 40 percent of traf-
fic deaths during the
Christmas and New
Year's Eve holidays
The risk increases
during the holidays:
David Webb because it is a time
The Rare Reporter when many people
drink to excess and take on one of the characteris-
tics of what is known as hardcore drunken driv-
Hardcore drunken driving refers to anyone who
gets behind the wheel with a blood-alcohol account
of 0.15 or above, does so repeatedly and is resistant
to changing that behavior. For the past decade, fa-
tality statistics show that 70 percent of impaired
drivers responsible for the deaths had a blood-al-
cohol account of 0.15 or higher.
It is an issue of particular concern to the LGBT
community because many studies have shown a
high incidence of alcohol and drug abuse among
In connection with the national anti-drunken
driving campaign that carries the slogan, "Drive
Sober or Get Pulled Over," alcohol awareness ed-
ucators are warning revelers to understand how
beer, wine and liquor affect the human body.
Many occasional and frequent drinkers apparently
harbor misconceptions about the effects of alcohol.
Alcohol impairs coordination, driving skills, re-
flex time and judgment long before the drinker or
anyone else notices signs of intoxication, and it can
spark aggression that makes the driver more dan-
gerous on the road.
Even after an individual quits drinking, alcohol
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in the stomach continues to enter the bloodstream
and affect the brain for hours. Coffee or other caf-
feine drinks do not reduce the effects of alcohol and
do not make the impaired driver any safer. Only
time can counteract the detrimental effects of alco-
Educators advise party-goers to take a cab or to
designate someone to drive who isn't drinking.
Otherwise, anyone planning to get behind the
wheel should not have any more than one alco-
holic drink per hour, and it would be a good idea
for every other drink to be nonalcoholic.
No one should rely on someone else to monitor
and take care of then on New Year's Eve or any
other holiday party. No matter whether the reveler
is at a private party or a nightclub, the person in
charge may be far too busy to notice the drinker is
The bottom line is that many citizens who typi-
cally would not dream of breaking the law risk
doing exactly that if they drink to excess and try to
drive themselves home. The legal limit is 0.08 in
most states these days, and that only amounts to
two or three drinks for many people,
Others who have problems with alcohol and
other drugs should seek help before they get be-
hind the wheel again and risk the lives of them-
selves and others.
Anyone who drives drunk this New Year 's Eve
risks getting arrested, being jailed, bonding out of
jail, hiring a lawyer, going to court, possibly going
back to jail, serving probation and making huge fi-
nancial expenditures. It is estimated that a drunken
driving charge costs about $20,000 when all of the
expenses—including increased insurance costs —
That is the risk if the drunken driver is lucky and
doesn't have an accident resulting in an injury or
fatality. In a worse-case scenario, there won't ever
never be an end to the anguish and devastation af-
fecting everyone involved.
That's cause enough not to ever go there in the
first place. ■
David WelijisazetemnjourmlistM'liolMs reported
on LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative
media for three decades. E-mail him at david-
speak out poll
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RESULTS FROM LAST WEEK'S POLL:
Are you making New Year's resolutions?
• Yes: 38 percent
• No: 33 percent
• Why bother: 29 percent
73 Votes cast
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, December 30, 2011, newspaper, December 30, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239200/m1/19/: accessed March 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.