HUNTSVILLE, Ala - If you're tempted to pick up another glass of eggnog at that holiday party, here is a sobering new statistic. According to the company SafeWise, Alabama is among the top five states in the country for the number of DUI related fatalities in 2017.
The holiday season is marked by being merry and bright, but Huntsville Police say it has a dark side. They see more people deciding to drink and drive this time of year.
"It always goes hand in hand. When you have more holiday parties and things of that nature, people drink more. There's New Year's Eve, that kind of stuff," Sgt. Kevin Matthews said. Matthews is a leader on the DUI task force.
He says so far this year, there have been 24 traffic fatalities, seven of those were alcohol-related. According to the company SafeWise, Alabama ranks number five in the nation for the number of drunk driving related deaths in 2017. Topping the list is Wyoming. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the state with the most DUI related deaths was Texas with 1,468, followed by California with 1,120. Florida is third with 839.
Alabama had 268. So, how could it be on a list of the top five most drunk driving deaths? According to SafeWise, the company took the number of impaired driving deaths and compared that to 2017 census information. According to their methodology, Alabama has 5.49 impaired driving deaths per 100,000 people.
It doesn't matter how you break down the numbers, Huntsville Police have one message for drivers this holiday season.
"With Uber, Lyft, taxi cabs, designated drivers, there's really no reason behind the wheel whatsoever," Matthews said.
Huntsville Police say they often conduct driver checkpoints, but could not say if they plan to do one before the end of the year. ALEA did confirm that they plan on holding driver license checkpoints between Christmas and New Year's Eve.