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A Primer for Holiday Drinking & Driving

Posted on by Townsend Myers

Photo by BluEyedA73 via Flickr Creative Commons

Holiday parties are coming on strong now.. I thought it would be helpful to put out there my own sort of P.S.A. about drinking and driving this holiday season.

The wisest thing we can all do is abstain when we know we have to operate a vehicle. Everyone knows the slogan: “Don’t Drink and Drive.”

It seems simple. But in a season full of holiday parties and happy hours where Christmas cocktails are featured, and even office parties have eggnog and champagne, and the boss is pouring, it’s really not so easy, is it? Especially in a city like New Orleans, with an alcohol culture (hello drive thought daiquiri shops, go-cups and 24-hour bars!).

And to add to the confliction, there are terms tossed around like “legal limit” and “blood-alcohol concentration” and percentages and such, so that the definition of “drinking and driving” is no longer clear cut. The notion of a legal limit implies that it is, in fact, OK to imbibe little and still drive a car. Then you find yourself making value judgments about your intoxication level… how many glasses of wine can YOU drink before you are drunk? I blogged about this recently.  A good rule of thumb is that the average healthy liver can handle about one drink per hour (.08% BAC) — anything more than that returns to the bloodstream where it becomes anything but harmless.

So here are some facts for you culled from my website, and some helpful legal information, in case you do overindulge and find yourself regretting that last candy cane cocktail.

  • In Louisiana, any driver with a blood-alcohol concentration – or BAC – above .08% is measured “per se intoxicated” under the law.
  • The penalty for a first offense DUI/DWI is ten days to six months (maximum) in prison, plus a fine that will range from $300 to $1000. Your driver’s license could be suspended or revoked. If it is your first offense, it is possible to avoid jail time, but you need an attorney to help keep you out of jail.
  • My advice is to always refuse the roadside breath test. In most cases, this will hurt your case. (Note: If you HAVE NOT been drinking AT ALL, it may benefit you to go ahead and take the test, but only if you have had NOTHING to drink).
  • Exercise your right to remain silent. You should only answer questions regarding basic information, like your name and address. Do not answer any other questions. But be very polite to the officers.

If you are going to drink, decide beforehand exactly how much you will allow yourself to drink. If you know that it only takes one and a half glasses of wine to make you giddy, then stop at one glass. If you know you can’t handle hard liquor at all, avoid it and have a beer. Savor that drink, make it last, and take sips of water in between every sip of alcohol. And once you hit your limit, stop. Switch to spritzer with lime, or coffee, or cranberry juice, or whatever you want. May this wise advice also keep you from being the fool at the office party.

Contact me if you need assistance. You can call or text message me, Townsend Myers, at 504-237-5425. @NOLAlaw on Twitter



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