Americans have been celebrating the Fourth of July, otherwise known as “Independence Day” for hundreds of years; it’s known as one of the biggest parties of the year. Traditionally, America’s independence is celebrated with parades, fireworks, barbecues, family gatherings, and of course, plenty of alcohol.
Unfortunately, the Fourth, along with other major holidays, such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s is known as a major drinking holiday where we see an uptick in drunk driving crashes nationwide. Since government entities link several national holidays with drunk driving, law enforcement agencies across the country kick their anti-drinking and driving enforcement campaigns into high gear during major holidays, including the 4th of July.
Florida Highway Patrol Will Be on High Alert
Each year on the 4th of July, the Florida Highway Patrol makes it clear that it will be in full force. What can Florida drivers expect? They can expect to see uninformed FHP officers patrolling the Florida Turnpike, and all interstates and other major roads throughout Florida between Saturday, July 1st and Tuesday, July 4th.
The FHP will be concentrating its efforts on the following types of drivers: speeders, aggressive drivers, drunk and drugged drivers, and people who don’t buckle themselves or their child passengers up. To illustrate: A 2011 article run in the Sun Sentinel reported the following, “The Florida Highway Patrol issued 2,344 tickets to South Florida drivers during the four-day Fourth of July weekend, officials said Tuesday.”
“Throughout the state, troopers handed out a total of 8,564 tickets, including 90 for DUI, 3,257 for speeding, and 1,061 for safety belt violations,” reported the Sun Sentinel.
Why DUI on Fourth of July?
Why are there so many DUIs on the Fourth of July in particular? Since so many people start celebrating the 4th during the day, people start drinking alcohol early. In turn, there are a lot of drunk drivers on the road. According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Fourth of July holiday statistics from 2015, which ran from 6 p.m. July 2 to 5:59 a.m., July 6:
- 146 people lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes involving at least one motorcycle operator or driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or above.
- 92 people lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes involving a BAC of .15% or above.
Drinking Responsibly on Independence Day
Across the nation, drunk driving is one of our deadliest problems. However, the good news is that drunk and drugged driving are entirely preventable when we follow a few safety precautions. If you are planning to drink over the Fourth of July holiday, please follow these safety tips:
- Before you leave to celebrate, make a plan, whether that means crashing on your friend’s couch, booking a room, or catching an Uber home.
- If you decide to designate a sober driver, give him or her your keys and make sure they don’t drink any alcohol. A designated driver isn’t supposed to be “less drunk” than you; they aren’t supposed to have a drop of alcohol!
- Remember, friends are not supposed to let friends drive drunk. If you see someone who is impaired try to drive, take their keys and help them find a safe ride home, even if it’s a cab or an Uber or Lyft.
- If you don’t have a designated driver and you are impaired, call a trusted friend or family member to pick you up, take public transportation, or call Uber or Lyft to ensure you get home safely.
The Fourth of July is one of the biggest, most important celebrations of the year – you should have fun! Just make sure you’re prepared and you don’t end up with a DUI arrest, or worse, in a DUI crash. Remember, DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols will be in full force, so the police will probably see you before you see them!
If your best plans fail and you do get a DUI this holiday, contact our office for a free case evaluation with a Tampa DUI attorney!