December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month, a time to be aware of the dangers of drinking and driving.
So why December? some may ask. Why not June or July with all those keggers and outdoor barbecues?
Well, the reason of course is the large number of holiday and office parties this time of year, on top of Christmas and New Year's. Tragically, people who might be just occasional drinkers might find themselves overimbibing, having "just one more for the road".
And that can be tragic.
First of all, there's the legal penalties. With its .08 legal limit, a person having just three or four beers might be considered too intoxicated to drive. The solution to that, of course, is to either not overimbibe in the first place, have a designated driver or stay at home if one is planning on having more than the legal limit.
With even a first offense, in Iowa a person can plan on spending a weekend in jail. And then there's the stiff fines and court costs and several years of high-risk insurance. A person's license could also be suspended or revoked. And if your job requires you to drive, a person can forget about having that too.
And all that's if a person is lucky. It could get worse.
Just last week, Dallas Cowboy nose tackle Josh Brent was charged with intoxicated vehicular homicide after an accident in which his Cowboys practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed. Sadly, both were teammates at the University of Illinois, making the loss all that more tragic.
In this case, the lives of two very talented men were changed forever, as well as the lives of their families and the people around them.
Traffic enforcement will be a lot more thorough and stiffer this time of year. You can count on it. The reason is the higher number of traffic-related injuries and deaths.
Regardless of your lifestyle, we urge you to use moderation in your holiday celebrations. Don't exceed your limit. Better yet, don't drink and drive. Even a couple drinks can slow your reaction time, and if you're on glare ice and have to brake quickly, the added reaction time could be tragic - even if a person is not legally intoxicated.
If necessary, find a designated driver. Better yet, become a designated driver.
Because that's the person who's really the life of the party.