Key Points of This Article

  • Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes, which make up more than one-third of holiday-related fatal crashes.
  • From 2010 to 2018, there were 2,485 fatalities caused by drunken driving on Thanksgiving and Christmas — 37% of the total number of holiday deaths.
  • Kentucky state law does not differentiate between alcohol and other drugs (illicit drugs or prescription pills) when driving under the influence.
  • Traumatic brain injury, tragic spinal injuries or paralysis, and death are examples of the most severe drunk or drugged driving accident injuries.

Driving Sober Is an Excellent Holiday Gift to Share with Others

While holiday travel may look different this year due to the pandemic, plenty of vehicles will still be on the road, and some drivers will be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Impaired driving is one of the most deadly, selfish choices a driver can make. And, unfortunately, the dangers of driving impaired are more lethal from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day than drunken-driving crashes that occur during the rest of the year, says the National Transportation Bureau Safety Board. As you make plans to celebrate the holiday season, remember that driving sober is one of the best ways to show others that you care.

The Predictable Effects of Driving Drunk

Even small amounts of alcohol or drugs can impact a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Impaired drivers will experience reduced brain function, challenged reasoning and thinking, lessened reaction time, drowsiness, and weakened muscle coordination. They also make careless decisions to speed, ignore traffic signals, become easily distracted, or remain overly confident in their ability to drive even in the most disastrous weather conditions.

A driver may be found under the influence when their blood alcohol content (BAC) is measured with a breathalyzer, a device that measures the amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath, or by a blood test. Here is a closer look at how different alcohol levels in the bloodstream create predictable destructive driver patterns.

  • .02 – Decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target), a decline in the ability to perform two tasks simultaneously (divided attention).
  • .05 – Reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, reduced response to emergency driving situations.
  • .08 – Concentration, short-term memory loss, speed control, reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search), impaired perception.
  • .10 – Reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately.
  • .15 – Substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and necessary visual and auditory information processing.

Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers (with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher). In Kentucky, it is illegal to drive with a blood or breath alcohol content of 0.08 or higher, or 0.02 if under 21 years of age (KRS 189A.010).

Sober Driving Comes with Safe Decision Making

Remember that NO amount of alcohol or drug is safe for the person who is behind the wheel. If you drive while impaired in Kentucky, you will be arrested, fined, may face jail time, or your license may be suspended. And if involved in a traffic crash that causes serious injury or death to others, your life will never be the same. Extra law enforcement will be looking for these drivers over the holidays. Be sure to review these easy precautions to help keep roads free from impaired drivers this holiday season.

Plan Ahead or Call a Safe Ride: If you plan to attend any festive gatherings at restaurants or bars and will be consuming alcohol, plan ahead by designating a sober driver, or use public transportation or a ride-hailing service such as Safe Ride KY. Encourage your friends to do the same and do what you can to help them get home safely.

Learn more: Safe Ride KY 2020 takes place during the following high-traffic holidays.

Stay Committed: The current-day reality is that more than 40% of designated drivers have consumed alcohol before driving others home. If you agree to be the designated driver, stay committed to staying sober. Even one drink can be too many. And, if you’re hosting a holiday party, prevent overserving guests and make sure everyone leaves with a sober driver or offer your guests a place to stay the night. Your responsible acts could be the greatest gift you ever give them.

Protect Yourself: While we can’t stop all drunk or drugged drivers, we can protect ourselves as much as possible when on the road. Always wear your seat belt, follow the speed limit, and lessen your distractions such as cell phones. Staying alert may be your best defense against identifying an impaired driver headed in your direction. And if you see a suspicious driver, contact law enforcement by dialing 911 with your location immediately. Doing so could save the life of the driver, passenger, and others on the road.


Too often, the result of impaired driving creates limitless sorrow, especially for families who have suddenly lost someone. And for those injured by an impaired driver, traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries, paralysis, or other permanent disabilities reduce their opportunity to work and live a life once had.


Drive sober. Stay safe. Happy Holidays!


We Hold Kentucky’s Impaired Drivers Accountable

If tragedy strikes this holiday season and you or your family are involved in a drunk driving accident or crash caused by a driver under the influence of drugs, please call the car accident attorneys at Rhoads & Rhoads. Our job is to seek justice for the wrongs done to you and ensure medical care realities and future recovery needs do not challenge your family.

We can start the conversation with a FREE initial consultation. Give us a call at 888-709-9329 or send us a message so we can begin helping you today.

Also read: Sleepy Drivers: As Dangerous As Drunk Drivers