Daytime Drinking and Driving: Increasing Threat in the Light of Day

Highway patrol checkpoints are a common sight on any highway in the U. S. A. on holidays, weekends, and some weekdays. These checkpoints are one method used by law enforcement to combat drunk driving. Officers set up near events and venues where people typically drink alcohol. Places like concerts, dance clubs, and sporting events are high on the list. Most of these events begin about dusk and often conclude a couple of hours past midnight. The police checkpoints are strategically located so law enforcement can identify and remove impaired drivers from the road before they can cause any harm. The checkpoint strategy works well for the late hour threat posed by drunk drivers; however, the police now face another emerging threat. Daytime drunk driving is not a new phenomenon but one that many experts agree is increasing by a significant amount.

According to the University of Georgia police department, instances of daytime drunk driving have been on the rise. Officials in Ohio claim that daytime drunk driving has become more of a problem in their state. In Tennessee the Traverse City Record Eagle reported that deputies arrested a man who according to witnesses ran two cars off the road with his erratic driving. The incident took place sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 pm. In large cities like Los Angeles and New York studies have shown that although most DUI arrests occur at night, daytime DUI arrests are increasing. Five different cities, small and large, in five different states, all saying the same thing. The number of daytime drunk driving arrests are increasing.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration presents statistics on drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, the legal threshold for impairment, for 2013. It is worth noting these numbers only reflect accidents with fatalities. The numbers are separated into daytime and nighttime occurrences. Daytime is defined as 6:00am to 5:59pm and nighttime is 6:00pm to 5:59am.

Single Vehicle Crashes

Total – 17,983 – 35%
Daytime – 7,186 – 18%
Nighttime – 10,593 – 47%

Possible explanations for the daytime instances of DUI’s include hardcore alcoholics that drink and drive regardless of the hour, people who drink very late into the night and mistake their continued impairment for a hangover, and people who are high on substances other than alcohol. Interestingly the mistaken hangover scenario may be the result drinkers doing the right thing and leaving their cars behind when they head out to drink. Not driving gives people the freedom to stay out drinking longer and thus staying impaired well into the following morning.

The consequences for driving while intoxicated range from possible arrest to becoming involved in a fatal accident. Arrest, even for first time offenders, carry stiff penalties that vary by state but often include jail time, hefty fines, loss of license, and significant legal costs. The highest cost of DUI is often paid by innocent victims.

If you are caught drinking and driving at any time of the day, you should contact a DUI attorney immediately to discuss your case.