With the holiday season in full swing, everyone needs to remember that most alcohol-related automobile accidents occur around this time. Last week, the Maryland Impaired Driving Coalition held its third annual Maryland Remembers Ceremony. The Coalition, along with the State Highway Administration, attempts to stress alcohol-related crashes and the resulting fatalities this time of year. This ceremony honors those who have passed because of such crashes.
In 2006, the General Assembly passed legislation that toughens sanctions against repeat offenders and those who refuse a Breathalyzer test but are later found to have a high blood-alcohol content. There has also been increased spending on media publicity to make people aware of the effects of drinking and driving. Also, more than $890,000 was spent in supplemental enforcement funds for sobriety checkpoints and DUI patrols.
A shocking 38 percent of the traffic fatalities result from alcohol-related accidents. There were 235 fatalities recorded as caused by drinking and driving. On the bright side, this number is down 18 percent from 2004. Nancy Kelly, IDC Legislative Committee Vice Chair, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving attribute this decline to increased awareness and aggressive police work. The romantic in me hopes that it is also because of a rising tide of common sense.
As regular readers know, the Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer Blog is not a place for trite preaching of what people should do when everybody already knows what is obviously the right thing to do. But I’m asking for a pass, understanding that I promise not to go all Oprah on you. If everyone would just keep an eye out this holiday season for people who should not be driving, we could save a ton of lives. Who, when called on the carpet for being unfit to drive after one too many egg nogs, would refuse a ride home, a cab called, a night on a friend’s couch? So, in the immortal words of Sergeant Phil Esterhaus (Hill Street Blues): “Hey hey hey hey, let’s be careful out there.”