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Plan Ahead to Avoid Drunk-Driving Tickets, Tragedies

PHOTO: How many beers are too many? It can be an expensive question if you're arrested for driving drunk. Plan ahead for holiday festivities and agree on a designated driver before you need one. Photo credit: Kinugraphik/iStockphoto.com.
PHOTO: How many beers are too many? It can be an expensive question if you're arrested for driving drunk. Plan ahead for holiday festivities and agree on a designated driver before you need one. Photo credit: Kinugraphik/iStockphoto.com.
November 28, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. - In a new survey commissioned by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 72 percent of respondents who have used a designated driver said they did so to avoid getting arrested.

Defense attorney Omar Nur says that's good thinking. Nur says the price tag for getting through the court process for a DUI can easily top several thousand dollars. In addition to attorneys' fees, there can be several types of court fees, the cost of a mandatory ignition-interlock device, higher insurance rates, and more.

"That's the number one thing about a DUI: it's not cheap, and it's a huge hassle," he says. "It's just not worth it. You're gambling with your own safety, you're gambling with the safety of others - and you're risking your personal freedom, too."

Nur says a designated driver should be a part of the planning process for any festivity that involves alcohol this holiday season.

MADD says drinking is involved in one in four fatal traffic accidents in Oregon, and Gov. John Kitzhaber has declared December "Drinking and Drugged Driver Awareness Month" in the state.

Also, in the MADD survey, 85 percent of respondents said they've been chauffeured by a designated driver because they "want everyone to get home safely." Christie Scott at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission says a responsible party host plans ahead for these situations. She suggests a policy of politely asking everyone to hand over their keys when they first arrive.

"It gives you an opportunity to really assess what their sobriety level is when they come in the house," she says. "It also gives you another opportunity to assess their sobriety as they're leaving your house."

When people drink too much, she says you can offer to give them a ride home, or ask another guest to do so. An alternative is to have guests chip in for a taxicab fund in case someone needs it - and to be donated to charity if it isn't used.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR