Avoiding DUI

Summer is synonymous with celebration. The long, warm days are filled with students on extended leave, vacations to sunny locales being planned and enjoyed, more sun-soaked outside activities than can be counted, and festive holiday gatherings in the beginning, middle and end of the season.

While savoring all of the sunshine, nearly all of these activities will include one common factor: in some way, alcohol and driving will be in the equation. Because of this, sadly the summer season obtains the most alcohol-related car accidents and DUI-related arrests of the entire year in the United States. However, with knowledge and prevention planning, it is possible to have a safe and enjoyable summer.

How to Prevent a DUI

There are many ways to prevent driving under the influence, yet, the most common problem is that even with a rough “plan” in place, once alcohol becomes consumed, objective reasoning is gone and therefore those “plans” are abandoned. The following are suggestions for how to celebrate with alcohol in the safest manner possible, with little to no planning:

  • Designated Driver – The old tried-and-true method works: designating one person to stay sober and drive for the occasion is the surest way to ensure your safety. Not only will it significantly bring down the risk factor of an alcohol-related accident, but it will also eradicate the chance of a possible DUI-related arrest at a police checkpoint.
  • Cab or Car Service – In our current age of technology, calling a taxi cab or car service could not be easier. For those with smartphones, there are even apps available that will allow you to order a car to your exact location in a short amount of time. If the designated driver plan fails, or you find yourself intoxicated and unable to drive, this is your next best choice. Allow for this option ahead of time and add the local taxi service phone number into your phone, as well as competitors if possible, for easy retrieval and to avoid being stranded if there is an influx of people in your area (particularly for group gatherings, holidays, etc.).
  • Ask Ahead – In most cases partaking in summertime fun includes a group or a gathering. Prior to the fun, inquire who in the group might want to be a designated driver, or if someone is offering a place to recoup for those that indulge. By exploring your options, you can create a safe experience in which you can relax.
  • “Just One” Does Not Always Work – Statistics show that people that have the intention of having just one drink among friends in a party or celebratory setting largely fail and imbibe more. This can lead to impaired judgment on the part of someone that did not have a backup plan and is over their legal limit to drive. Always take a small amount of time and create an alternate plan in the case that “just one” turns into more.
  • Take the Keys Away – Sometimes preventing a DUI-related incident becomes more than just planning for you. There are also instances in which you might see a friend/acquaintance attempting to drive after drinking too much. In this scenario, it is always best to attempt to take their keys away and save them from the mistake of possibly putting themselves or someone else in harm’s way. If taking the keys becomes impossible, it might even be in their best interest to call law enforcement.
  • Your Party, Your Responsibility – If you are the person hosting a gathering, it is your responsibility to ensure that every guest is safe leaving your home and has not consumed too much alcohol and attempting to drive. Make every event you host safe and enjoyable by offering overnight stays, and allowing guests to give you their keys upon arrival for safety purposes.

Dodging a Driver under the Influence

While you may have planned and created the safest summertime activities possible, you must be vigilant to the fact that there are others on the road that have not done so. To increase your safety, you need to be aware of how to avoid those that are not so conscientious:

  • Avid Avoidance – Try to avoid any areas that are largely consumed by people that are mostly consuming alcohol and opt for a lesser populated area. This especially includes places where you know that DUI checkpoints are mandatory (this is a clear indication there are expected drunken drivers). If this is unavoidable, plan to arrive/leave during non-peak hours and use public transportation such as busses/trolleys/trains if possible and/or necessary.
  • Exercise Extreme Caution – Whether it is day or night, during the summer there are likely to be impaired drivers on the road. Always exercise extreme caution when on the roadways and look out for drivers that are excessively speeding, going exceptionally slow, or are driving erratically. Make sure to give them plenty of space and steer clear of them.
  • Call the Authorities – If you see a driver you suspect or know is under the influence, it is best to grab as much information as you can from the vehicle, i.e. make, model, license plate number, and drive to a stopping point and call the local police department. It is likely that driver will injure themselves or someone else on the way to their destination and it is safest for you and the drivers around you that the suspected person is taken off of the road and questioned by the authorities.

While summer is an amazing time to gather with friends and family, absorb the rays and partake in long-standing American traditions such as baseball, BBQ’s, beaches, bonfires, bashes and baking in the sun, it is important to remember that safety is paramount. Protect yourself, your loved ones, and everyone else celebrating the season, and plan for a safe as well as fun time.

Boating Safety

Now that the weather is beginning to get warmer and summer is just around the corner, many people will be taking to the water for some fun in the sun. While enjoying your time, it is important to remember that water safety is crucial in order to protect yourself and others. Below are some tips on how to achieve that while you are boating.

Take a Boat Safety Course!

In the State of Connecticut, it is required that every boat operator obtain a safe boating certificate (SBC) before operating any type of vessel. In order to procure this, an approved boating safety course is required to be taken. While an initial course is required for the certification, it is also a good idea to periodically take a refresher course. This will ensure that the boat operator is educated and confidant enough to be able to handle an emergency on the water if needed.

Emergency Preparedness:

In pursuance of preparing for a possible boating accident or any other type of emergency that can happen while boating, it is crucial that the boat operator maintains certain things on board:

  • Flotation Devices – A life jacket for each person on board is required. Furthermore, in the event of an accident there will not always be enough time to put the life jacket on, which is why it is always a good idea to have it on from the start of the trip to the end.
  • First Aid Kit – A standard first aid kit should be checked and re-stocked before any adventure on the water. This would include aspirin, band aids, gauze, cleansing pads, sunscreen, etc. Check to make sure that all items with an expiration date are far from expiring and that everything is in good condition to be used in an emergency.
  • Fire Extinguisher – A fire extinguisher that is in proper working order should always be available in a highly accessible place on board any boat. In the event an engine fire or any other type of fire starts while the boat is away from land, every second counts in order to save the lives of all passengers on board. Having a fire extinguisher nearby can mean the difference between a small amount of damage, and total destruction of the vessel.
  • Cell Phone/VHF Radio – Having a phone to be able to communicate with rescue sources while boating is imperative. Most everyone now keeps a cell phone on them at all times, and having at least one on the boat is needed. However, depending upon where you are, cell phone signals can sometimes be nonexistent and inoperable, especially in the middle of a large body of water. In this circumstance, a VHF Radio kept on board can be used to communicate with rescue personnel or other boats that may be nearby and able to assist.
  • Signal Devices – In the event of distress, signaling devices can help other boats in the area or rescue personnel to locate you, especially if you have no other ability to communicate with them. Keeping both day time and night time devices in working order on board should be as routine as refreshing the first aid kit. These devices include flares, horns, distress flags, etc.
  • Anchor & Tow Ropes – Having an anchor on board is needed if the boat comes upon bad weather, so that the boat can stay as stable as possible until the weather passes. It should also be used in the event of engine failure to keep the boat from drifting. In addition, having extra tow ropes on board will help if you or another fellow boater becomes stranded.

Watch for Other Water Activities

While you are enjoying your time on the water, it is important for you to remember that others are enjoying theirs as well. At any given time you may come upon swimmers, jet skiers, paddle boarders, water skiers, kayakers, canoers, etc., depending upon the type and location of the water that you are in. Boating accidents do not always just involve the singular boat, sometimes they occur due to lack of visibility of other activities going on. Whether drifting, or boating at moderate to high speeds, always keep a vigilant eye for other water activities around you.

Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Boating while intoxicated or under the influence is against the law, just as with operating any type of vehicle or vessel. Because alcohol affects judgment, coordination, vision and balance, it can easily lead to an accident on the water. In fact, a large percentage of boating accidents occur because the operator is under the influence. For the safety of all passengers on board, it is critical that the operator is alert and cautious at all times.

Operating any type of vehicle or vessel can be fun, but also dangerous – and boating is no exception. While enjoying time with friends and family this summer, remember that safety is paramount and in order to maximize your enjoyment, you must be well prepared and alert.

In the event that you or someone you know has been or becomes involved in a boating accident in the State of Connecticut, contact The Kaufmann Law Offices today for a free personal consultation at (203) 454-7859.