In addition to the start of the Holiday Season, Thanksgiving Eve unfortunately also kicks off the season for drunk driving.
With the holiday season comes the most dangerous time of the year for binge drinking, drunk driving and alcohol-related fatalities. According to a number of national organizations, these problems are expected to spike on Thanksgiving Eve, also known as “Drinksgiving.”
In New Jersey, a person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater who operates a motor vehicle is considered to be driving under the influence (DUI). Note that for those under 21, BAC drops to only 0.02% and for commercial drivers it’s 0.04%.
So how many drinks does it take to become legally drunk? The answer is “it depends.” if you are taking medication, even one drink could put you into the “DUI” category. For some people, it often takes very little alcohol to become legally drunk and certain physical characteristics such as weight, gender and body fat percentage can all be factors in the equation. Eating can also affect your outcome – you are more likely to fail a blood alcohol test if you do not eat. So, practically, if you’re wondering how many drinks you can have before driving, the best answer is None. In other words, whether or not you consider yourself “drunk,” the law considers you to be driving under the influence if your BAC is above the limit.
Being convicted of a DUI in New Jersey is a serious offense, carrying heavy penalties including:
- Fines, fees and surcharges
- License suspension
- Ignition interlock device
- Jail time
- Community service
So if you want to drink on Thanksgiving plan ahead. Don’t wait until you start drinking to figure out how you’re getting home. Add contact information for local cab companies or car services into your phone or keep it handy. Many companies even offer special fares during some holidays, so check ahead. Identify a Designated Driver for the evening and STICK WITH IT. If plans change, have a back-up, such as one of the options above.