Stay Safe and Healthy for the Holidays
Don't carry open bottles of alcoholic beverages anywhere in the passenger compartment of a vehicle. That means no bottles of hard liquor with the cap seals broken, no partial bottles of wine with the corks jammed back in, and certainly no opened beer cans or bottles. If you're traveling with any of the foregoing, make sure they're in the trunk, or, in the case of a trunkless SUV, as far out of reach of anyone in the vehicle as possible - like in the way, way back and inside something like a cooler, with the tops taped over.
And if you can possibly arrange it, don't drive if you've had anything at all to drink. If that's not possible, and if you've been out to dinner or a holiday party, don't drive if you've had even a sip more than 2 drinks and anything at all to drink in the past hour. Also, make sure you've had plenty to eat before, during and after your holiday cheer, so it's not hitting your stomach like a depth charge. This isn't the time to worry about calories, so chow down, and get on the treadmill the next morning. Even under these circumstances, however, if you're on the fence about whether to drive, don't do it! Ride with a designated-driver, call a cab (we do have one here), crash on the sofa, or leave the car where it is and start hoofing it. The latter will kill 2 birds with one stone.
If you violate any of these commandments, here's what happens. If you get stopped for some minor traffic infraction on the way home - speeding, light out somewhere, not using your turn signal - not to mention careening all over the road - you're in for trouble. If you have open containers of adult beverages lying around, except in the safe places I've described and sealed all up, it will cost you the beverages (evidence after all) and about $250. What's more, if the officer smells the aroma of a suspicious beverage emanating from you or your vehicle, you'll be asked to step out and invited to perform some "field sobriety tests" right there by the roadside - probably in the cold and dark, and perhaps in full view of your friends who are also heading home from the festivities. If you mess up on any of those considerably challenging exercises, you'll be arrested, cuffed and stuffed, and on your way to the PD for a photo and fingerprints. Believe me, no one looks their best at that point - just check out mugshots.com.
If it's all been a huge mistake and your lawyer manages to get you off, you'll still have months of anxiety about the outcome and you'll pay anywhere from $3-5,000 for the privilege of seeing our court system at work from the inside. You can do that for free, you know - just give me a call. But if you're convicted, the stakes really escalate. You'll not only spend all that money on the lawyer, but you'll pay at least $620 in fines, lose your license for 90 days or more, and your insurance premiums will skyrocket for at least the next 5 years (a major consequence often overlooked). The usual estimate of the total tab is somewhere north of $10,000, and that doesn't count the fact that if you have to drive or commute for a living, you may also lose your job. Of course, I haven't even mentioned the significant potential for putting yourself or others permanently out of the job market.
Last but by no means least, don't let any of your friends or family do any of the stupid stuff I've described either. That will ruin your holidays as much as it will theirs. Stay safe and healthy, and best wishes!