Avoid Binge Drinking During Summer Holidays
The bookends of summer are Memorial Day and Labor Day, when summer vacations, graduation parties, weddings, festivals and picnics bring alcohol-laden events that can lead to unintentional binge drinking, which occurs when someone does not pay attention to the amount of alcohol they are consuming. Whether or not we choose to drink at a party, friends and relatives may over-indulge, and their resulting actions can affect others.
Binge drinking can be defined as consumption of a large amount of alcohol over a short period of time, either intentionally or not. Whether drinking beer, wine or mixed drinks, attention should always be paid as to how much of each we are imbibing. Alcohol consumption affects the entire the body, but especially the brain. The phrase, “When you get to drinking, you stop thinking,” is true, as ordinary, logical decisions are grossly affected while under the influence. Alcohol-fueled problems can range from arguments between friends and family to drunk driving or even acts of violence.
Summers in Chicago are way too short, and while it’s fun to attend parties, be smart about it. The best way to avoid problems is to drink in moderation and always after eating. People that drink on an empty stomach will get drunk faster than those that have eaten first. It’s also unwise to consume alcoholic beverages when taking certain medications. This information is printed on the label. Wise choices include drinking non-alcoholic beverages and keeping an eye on family members and friends that begin drinking too much. Over the July 4 holiday weekend, alcohol and backyard fireworks can be a dangerous combination. Many emergency room visits are made on this holiday by both partiers and bystanders that happen to get in the way.
The biggest warning is to never drive under the influence of alcohol or get in a vehicle with someone that may have been drinking. Telltale signs of inebriation include slurred speech, bloodshot or watery eyes and delayed reaction time, especially during conversation. The inability to answer simple questions is usually a major clue. Movements such as swaying, staggering or using solid objects for support all indicate impairment of coordination and reflexes. Maybe they are leaning up against the car or using the car door for support while entering and exiting the vehicle. If someone is suspected of being under the influence of even a small amount of alcohol, have a sober designated driver be the chauffer or call a taxicab or rideshare.
It’s an expensive lesson if we’re stopped by the police for driving for under the influence of alcohol (DUI). For starters, the car will be impounded, for which almost all jurisdictions charge a fee ranging anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, plus towing and storage fees, which must be paid to get the vehicle released. If we allow someone to drive our own vehicle while they are under the influence of alcohol, we can also be charged with a crime. The Illinois Vehicle Code defines this as a Class A misdemeanor.
Sleeping it off in the car also puts a person at risk of being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Even if the engine is off and the keys are not in the ignition, they may be charged with DUI just for being in the vehicle. This falls under the legality of having physical control of the vehicle, so sleeping in the car or putting an intoxicated friend into their car to sleep is definitely not a good idea.
DUI laws in Illinois are a very complex issue, and an arrest requires the services of an experienced attorney. Taking days off work to go to court and pay fines can be costly, and the after effects of injuring or killing someone while DUI are even worse. Drive safely and drive sober.
William Pelarenos is a retired police officer, a DUI expert witness, author and radio personality. Connect at WilliamPelarenos.com or tune in to his weekly show Legal Eagles on WCGO 1590AM at 1 p.m. on Fridays.