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Drinking frequency, DUI rates rise during the holiday season

It may come as no surprise, but it's a trend that needs mentioning. The amount of alcohol people drink goes up during the holiday season, and so does the DUI rate.

Of drunk drivers under the supervision of the alcohol monitoring company SCRAM Systems, 51 percent said they drink more during the holidays than other times of the year. On an ordinary day, drunk driving accounts for about 28 percent of all traffic-related deaths, according to NHTSA. During the holidays, that percentage jumps to 40. On New Year's Eve, 58 percent of traffic deaths are caused by drunk driving.

Moreover, pressure to drink mounts during the holiday season. One survey found that 22 percent of people attending holiday parties for work felt pressured to drink. 96 percent said they'd gone to work with a hangover or knew someone who had. Other people find family gatherings stressful and turn to alcohol. 50 percent of Harris Interactive Survey participants said that alcohol plays some role in their family's holiday events.

Driving is still the most common mode of holiday travel, according to AAA. The automobile club surveyed licensed drivers who drink alcohol and found that, over the past year, 1 in 8 had driven when they thought they were near the 0.08 blood-alcohol limit.

AAA also says that over 100 million people will travel by car between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3. Alcohol-related crashes increase by two to three times during the holiday season, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Around 1,200 people will be killed in alcohol-related crashes between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, and another 25,000 will be injured. Considering that holiday travel often involves the whole family, some of those killed and injured will be children.

In an ideal world, everyone would take these messages to heart and no one would drink and drive. Unfortunately, internal and external pressures to drink can result in some people getting behind the wheel when they should not.

In Tennessee, the penalties, costs and collateral consequences of a DUI conviction are extremely serious, even for a first offense. A conviction can easily cost you thousands of dollars, your driving privileges, and your freedom. It can limit your current and future opportunities and even cost you your gun permit. A DUI conviction cannot be expunged or sealed in Tennessee.

If you find yourself under arrest for DUI in Tennessee, you need a lawyer to help you navigate the complex system, protect your rights, and fight to minimize the potential consequences.

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