If you have to do something to make yourself okay to drive, you are not okay to drive.
Despite the fact that it is illegal to drive impaired, one person was killed every 52 minutes in a drunk driving crash on our nation’s roads in 2019. That is a total of 10,142 people who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in one year. Alcohol consumption impairs your thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination - all vital to operating a vehicle safely. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect a person quickly. For example, a blood alcohol concentration of .02 can affect someone’s ability to perform two tasks at one time.
Be Responsible: Have a Plan
Your life and the lives of others on the road are at risk every time a driver gets behind the wheel after drinking. Here are a few tips from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) to stay safe.
Before drinking, choose a designated driver, or schedule a ride-sharing, ride-hailing or taxi service.
If you are hosting a party where there is alcohol, offer non-alcoholic drink options, and make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.
Always wear your seat belt - it is the best defense against drunk drivers.
If you see a drunk driver on the road, safely pull over, and call law enforcement.
Ways to Get Home Safely
After you have made the right decision to not drive impaired, the next step is finding a safe way home. Before you pick up your phone to book a driver or call a taxi, it is important that you know how to stay safe.
Ride-Sharing, Ride-Hailing, and Taxis
Confirm your ride by checking the license plate.
Before getting into a ride-hailing vehicle, make sure the car and license plate match what you booked through the app. Many of these cars can look alike. You should also look at the driver and ask them their name, to confirm it matches the name and photo in the app.
Find a safe spot to be picked up.
Pickup locations for ride-hailing services are not usually centralized. You should pick a location where you can wait inside until the driver arrives. If that is not possible, choose an area to wait that is away from the roadway, well lit, and where your driver can safely stop. Request that your driver drop you off in a safe spot too.
Do not step into the road to flag down a ride. Go to a taxi stand, call for a cab, or request someone call a ride for you. It is never a good idea to accept a ride from a stranger who stopped after seeing you looking for a ride.
Wear a seat belt.
Even if it is a quick ride and you are in the back seat, you should always buckle up, and make sure that your driver wears their seat belt, too.
Bikes and Scooters
Do not ride a bike or scooter after drinking alcohol or using drugs.
About 26% of the bicyclists who died in 2017 had been drinking, according NHTSA. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause balance issues and delayed reaction time. If you are impaired, leave the bike or scooter behind, and choose a safe form of transportation.
Know that walking home drunk or high can be dangerous.
An estimated 32% of deadly pedestrian crashes in 2017 involved a person who was drunk and walking, according to NHTSA. Avoid walking home if you have been drinking or using drugs. If you choose to walk, remember to obey traffic signs and signals. If there is not a sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from vehicles as possible. Be visible, especially at night - 75% of pedestrian deaths in 2017 happened when it was dark.
When using a bus or train to get home, be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are traveling alone. Be careful on train platforms; do not stand or walk too close to the edge. Choose a seat near the driver or operator. Do not sleep on a train or bus. Look to see if there is an emergency call button should you need it — a cell phone might not always work.
While it is best to plan ahead for a sober driver, or consider staying over, it is important to know how to stay safe when considering other forms of transportation. And remember, never drive drunk or high.
The Cost of Drinking and Driving
Drunk drivers face jail time when they are caught, and the financial impact is devastating. On average, a DUI can set you back $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, car towing, and more. And, drinking and driving can result in losing your driver’s license and your car — imagine trying to explain that to your friends, family and boss.
In South Carolina, It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. If you have a BAC of .08% or higher, it will be inferred that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol. A BAC that is at least .05% but less than .08% may be considered with other evidence to determine guilt or innocence. Violators can face a fine of up to $400 and/or imprisonment from 48 hours to 30 days and suspension of driver’s license for six months for a first offense. Mandatory enrollment and completion of the ADSAP program if license is suspended can be required.