As the days get warmer and people across Canada pull out that patio furniture and dust off the barbeque, so too to those alcoholic beverages adults enjoy during the warm months make their appearance. Whether it’s a beer in the backyard or margaritas by the pool, summer parties often include alcohol. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying an alcoholic beverage in the summer sun, but it’s important to remember the consequences of getting behind the wheel after you have indulged.
Drinking and Driving: Legal Consequences
Even if you have only had one or two drinks, your judgment can be impaired. Alcohol has the effect of slowing reaction times and impairing your vision and ability to judge distance and speed. Drinking and driving increases the chances that you will be involved in an accident. If you are found at fault for an accident and your blood alcohol level is over the legal limit, there will be consequence beyond the damage and injuries caused by the accident.
Driving while impaired is illegal, and you will face legal consequences for your actions. This can include fines, impounding of your vehicle, loss of your licence, and even jail time in certain circumstances. If you have caused injuries and property damage to others in an accident, you can also face the financial ramifications of that and could find yourself in court facing charges.
If this is not your first time caught driving under the influence, the consequences will be more severe. Those caught driving under the influence repeatedly could lose their licence completely.
Insurance Implications of a DUI
The price you pay will go beyond the legal consequences. Even if there is no accident and you are simply pulled over and receive a DUI, you will pay more than just the fines. Your insurance company will raise your rates when your policy renews and more than likely will cancel your policy if you are convicted.
A DUI is considered a serious offence, and can mean a big hike in your rates. It stays on your insurance record for three years, which means you will be paying that extra premium for that long. Even if you switch insurance companies – although shopping around for car insurance quotes could get you a better rate – that DUI charge will follow you and cost you on your new policy.
If you are convicted of impaired driving at the time of an accident, you will not be covered for any damage to your vehicle. You will see even more of an increase in your rates, because you now have both a criminal violation on your record as well as an accident.
Avoiding a DUI: Smart Summer Parties
As the host of a party, you can be held responsible if you allow someone you leave your home and drive while intoxicated. Be careful when you are serving alcohol to friends and family at your party. It’s a good idea to stay relatively sober yourself when acting as host so that you can keep an eye on what is going on. Don’t be afraid to cut off someone who has had too much, or to take their keys and call a taxi to take them home. A loved one angry with you is better than a loved one dead, injured, or responsible for an accident because they drove drunk.
Before the party, let guests know your stance on drinking and driving, and ask everyone who plans to drink how they plan to get home. Arrange for designated drivers, or make sure they know they’re welcome to stay if they are unable to get home.
Although the host has some responsibility, every driver is ultimately responsible to keep control of their alcohol intake and to make sure they don’t get behind the wheel impaired. Before you head out to that summer gathering, decide who will be staying sober to drive home, or make alternate plans to get home.
Summer parties can make it easy to have one too many without realizing it. It’s warm outside and those cold beverages go down easy. Before you know it, you’re over the limit. If you even suspect you have had too much to drive, simply don’t get behind the wheel.