2020 Holiday Guidelines Don’t Change on IL Drinking and Driving
This year has flipped every rulebook on its head. The ways that we go to work, order food, go to the grocery store, and meet up with friends have all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Work happy hours now take place online and rideshares appear to be more dangerous than safe. One thing has stayed the same, however: you cannot drink and drive in Illinois.
Don’t Let a Post-COVID World Tempt You to Drive Drunk
Earlier this month, Illinois’s top doctor released a list of recommendations for people who want to attend holiday gatherings in the next few months.
We all miss our families and friends, but COVID-19 will not be taking a break at the end of 2020. Avoid catching (or spreading) Coronavirus by adhering to the following guidelines:
- Limit gatherings to small groups of people
- Gather outdoors – if gathering indoors, open windows for better ventilation
- Quarantine for two weeks before travel or gatherings
- Wash hands often, stay six feet apart, and social distance
- Stay at home if you show any symptoms of COVID-19
- Choose curbside pickup or online shopping over in-person options
These guidelines don’t make the holidays any more fun, but they do keep everyone safe from catching a virus that has killed over 210,000 Americans.
Consider How You Are Getting to Gatherings
The safest option for you and your family is to stay home or gather virtually during the holiday season. We know that not everyone is going to go that route. If you do choose to meet up with family members, consider how you are arriving and leaving the gathering. Are you going to drive? Take the bus? Call a rideshare driver?
To prevent the spread of COVID, the safest option is to drive with the members of your household. If you do choose to rideshare, be sure to wear a mask, sanitize before and after the ride, and roll down the window for some ventilation.
Driving with your household is only the safest option when your household has a designated driver. Do not allow your fear of rideshares or public transportation to overshadow your fear of drinking and driving.
Staying safe always means staying sober behind the wheel.
Stay Safe By Staying Sober
Illinois has lost almost 10,000 people to COVID-19. We also lose 1,000 people every year to drunk driving. These deaths are preventable.
If you follow the guidelines put out by law enforcement and public health officials, you can help to reduce these deaths and keep our state safe. Otherwise, face the consequences.
You Can Get Pulled Over
Law enforcement officials know the danger of driving drunk, and they are determined to catch drivers before they become a statistic. If they see you swerving, speeding, or displaying any other unusual behavior that could signal drunk driving, they can and will pull you over. ( Yelling “I have Coronavirus!“ at law enforcement officers won’t get you off the hook.)
You Can Face Criminal Charges
If you appear to be intoxicated or fail a Breathalyzer, law enforcement officers will arrest you and charge you with drunk driving.
A DUI comes with serious costs, including:
- Suspension of vehicle registration
- Possible fines and jail time
- Loss of income (or your job)
- Possible restitution (if the damage was caused to another car or pedestrian)
You Can Pay Hefty Fines for a DUI
Estimates put the cost of a DUI at around $16,000. That leaves very little room for holiday gifts. The freedom of drinking at holiday events (and the fear of getting into a small car with a stranger) is not worth the risk of potentially losing your license, getting arrested, and dealing with a DUI charge throughout 2021.
Choose a Designated Driver Before You Go Out
The year 2020 is one that’s been full of hard conversations. Should you attend family gatherings in the first place? What makes a person safe to be around? Is Uber an option for this year’s family gatherings?
Your partner or housemates may decide that using a rideshare app is a more safe and practical option for family gatherings. Another housemate may propose switching off designated drivers for different holidays. Someone else may suggest staying home altogether.
The safest thing to do is to stay home. Do not allow the virus to hop from family member to family member this holiday season.
If you do attend a family gathering, be sure to wear masks, social distance, and stay in well-ventilated areas. Plan your route and designate a driver before you arrive. COVID kills – and so does drunk driving.
COVID can ruin your holiday and your life for the foreseeable future – and so can drunk driving. Do not risk your safety this holiday season: stay safe and stay sober.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.