CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – According to DrivingSchool.net, in comparison to an average weekend night, 71 percent more crashes take place with alcohol or drugs as a contributing factor between Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. and Jan. 1 at 6 a.m.

New Year’s Eve is one of the largest global celebrations; this being because it marks the last day before the new year. Common things we see on New Year’s Eve include:

  • Attending parties
  • Watching fireworks
  • Making new resolutions
  • Watching the ball drop
  • Kissing loved ones at midnight
  • Celebrating with a few drinks

While some people like to celebrate the new year with a few drinks, it can be dangerous if you plan to drive home later in the night. AAA East Central spokesperson, Tiffany Stanley, mentioned that the state of West Virginia has a law stating that a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher is considered legally drunk and can result in conviction of a DUI and fines up to $10,000. A BAC above 0.05 alone can result in conviction as well as the revocation of your driver’s license.

However, losing your driver’s license and receiving a DUI is not the only consequence to drinking and driving. Stanley said, “it’s very important that you make smart decisions and plan ahead of time because one bad decision can cost you property damage, it can cost you bodily injury to others and possibly yourself. You don’t want to turn such a fun occasion into a nightmare.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a report where it stated that about 32 people die every day in drunk-driving crashes. In 2020, 11,654 people died in the alcohol-impaired driving deaths, which was a 14 percent increase from 2019. The thing that most people tend to forget is that every single one of these deaths were preventable.

There are ways for people to still drink and have a good time, without driving under the influence. The spokesperson suggested having a designated driver or using a ride share program to make it home safely. Another tip she offered was to “wait it out.” If you choose this option, Stanley mentioned that if you feel different, you will drive different. She also added that it takes around an hour and a half for one alcoholic beverage to leave your blood stream. The last tip offered was to ask the host of the party to stay at their house until the next morning or stay at a nearby hotel.

New Year’s Day can also be dangerous for those who are hungover, considering that being hungover is just as dangerous as drinking and driving. Stanley recommended not driving if you are feeling fatigued, nauseous, headaches and weakness. She said, “if you’re not feeling yourself, if you still feel different, then like I said, you’re going to drive different as well.”

12 News advises travelers to keep a lookout for impaired drivers over New Year’s Eve and Day, and to contact local law enforcement to possibly save someone’s life. We also advise to not drink and drive on any day of the year, including special occasions.