Today is New Year's Eve, believed by many to be the biggest party night of the year. Surprisingly, however, statistics show that New Year's Eve runs a distant second to the holiday that statistically has the largest number of drunken driving fatalities-Thanksgiving.
According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety crash statistics, 324 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in Ohio in 2009. Of those crashes, 20 of the fatalities occurred between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
Holiday revelers would be wise to apprise themselves of the penalties and costs of driving while intoxicated before they overindulge and get behind the wheel.
In Ohio, even the first offense could cause you to spend three days in jail or a driver intervention program, pay a fine of $200 to $1,000 and have your driver's license suspended for six months to three years. And these are the costs involved only in the penalty phase. Add to this the increased cost of insurance premiums and the possibility of lost employment due to a DUI conviction and attorney fees.
New Year's Eve celebrations can still be fun without including alcohol. Several area communities, including Salem in Columbiana County and Youngstown and Canfield in Mahoning County, host alcohol-free celebrations tonight which offer a wide variety of entertainment and fun that everyone in the family can enjoy.
A wise New Year's resolution would be to resolve not to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol in 2011.
A historically low number of traffic fatalities for 2009 was reported for Ohio. Let's strive to make the state's death toll for 2011 even lower.