3 Reasons Drinking and Driving Arrests Spike During the Holidays

Here’s an amazing (if disconcerting) fact about DUI arrests. Police bust more people for driving under the influence from Thanksgiving to New Year’s than they do at any other time of the year. The problem is so bad over the holidays that, since 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has declared the month of December to be “National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.” The American Public Health Association (APHA) calls this period “one of the deadliest and most dangerous times on America’s roadways due to an increase in impaired driving.”

But why?

To get clarity, we first need to drill down and look at the facts.  

Sobering Reality

Alcohol monitoring expert SCRAM released the following holiday accident statistics based on 2016 data and predictions for 2017:

  • Throughout the year, 28 percent of traffic accidents are alcohol-related. That percentage spikes to 40 percent during the holidays.
  • 16 percent admit to drinking more than normal during December.
  • 50 percent of respondents say alcohol figures prominently at holiday family gatherings.
  • Over half of DUI drivers admit to drinking more during the holidays.
  • The number of DUI-related stops goes up 33 percent around Christmas.
  • 42 percent of accidents on New Year’s Eve are DUI related.

3 Hypotheses about the Cause of the Spike of Holiday DUIs

  1. More people drive during the holidays. In the U.S., 48.7 million people drive more than 50 miles to visit family Thanksgiving, and 103 million drive in excess of 50 miles during the December holidays. So maybe the spike is just an artifact of this excess vehicular traffic. More cars on the road will (almost always) lead to more crashes and DUIs, just because of statistical inevitability.
  2. The holidays stress people out. It’s an exciting time of year, but it also brings anxiety for many. Right after Thanksgiving, people start to struggle with holiday shopping, travel delays, a packed social calendar, and the tension that extended family often brings. Many people deal with holiday stress by having a cocktail… or multiple cocktails.
  3. There’s more alcohol present. During the holidays, people find themselves at many more social functions, and most of those include alcohol. Social pressure compels some to drink too much.

Which hypothesis is right? Could a combination of factors be at play? Maybe there are additional possible causes that researchers haven’t yet identified. Until scientists run actually controlled experiments (unlikely!), we’ll remain in the dark. All we can do is speculate based on statistics. Of course, we don’t need to understand the root cause to appreciate the consequences of DUI driving—and to do something about them

To that end, if you or someone you love faces charges for driving under the influence during the holidays in Georgia, our team can help. Call the Alpharetta DUI defense attorneys at Chehimi Law for insight into your defense now at 678-459-5659.

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