The upcoming winter holidays are filled with festivities and family gatherings – and alcohol often plays a big part in making sure all those group events are merry. Nothing puts a damper on a good time, however, like charges of driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Here in New York, conviction on a first offense can net you a fine of up to $1,000, a year in jail and the loss of your license for at least six months – and that’s before you consider collateral costs, like the public embarrassment, court costs and increased insurance rates. So, what can you do to make certain that you won’t end up on the wrong side of the law this holiday season? Keep these suggestions in mind.
Pick a designated driver
If you’re going out with your friend group or family, see who is willing to forgo alcoholic drinks for the evening and serve as the group’s “designated driver.” If you regularly go out with the same people, you can rotate this task so that everybody takes a turn. If you’re not, it’s usually customary for the group to pay for the designated driver’s meal in return for their service.
Set a ride up in advance
If you know you’re going to drink and you don’t have a designated driver, you should still consider leaving your keys at home. Catch a ride to the venue where the event is being held and arrange for a taxi or a rideshare service, like Uber or Lyft, to bring you home. Just one caution: It’s smart to make sure that you have the app set up and your payment information pre-loaded before you go out. You don’t want to try to manage an unfamiliar process when you’ve been drinking.
Ask to stay where you are
If you’re going to a gathering at the home of a family member or friend, inquire in advance if it’s okay for you to stay there overnight. That way, you can feel confident that, should you overindulge, you won’t be putting yourself and others into a dangerous position.
To be entirely clear, the only way to 100% ensure you don’t end up facing DWI charges is to simply not drink when you have to drive. However, mistakes do happen. If you find yourself facing charges after a holiday party or some other celebration, it’s wise to explore your potential defenses by seeking legal guidance as soon as you can.