News & Events

Drive sober or get pulled over


The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration is reinforcing the fact that driving under the influence of alcohol is never safe with a public awareness campaign ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’. At Tufts Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Center, substance abuse, including alcohol, is prevalent in many of the trauma cases treated in the Emergency Room. According to the CDC, Massachusetts has a higher percentage of self-reporting after drinking too much at 2.2% compared to the national average of 1.9%. Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, Injury Prevention Coordinator answers questions about driving under the influence of alcohol and tips on knowing when you should give the keys to someone who hasn’t been drinking.

What is alcohol-impaired driving?

People driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BACs) of 0.08 grams per deciliter or higher.

How many people get hurt from drunk driving?

Someone is injured by a drunk driving accident every two minutes.

How do I spot a driver who is under the influence of alcohol?

Anyone who is reckless and doesn’t have full control of the vehicle is a public concern.  While there could be other causes for driving dangerously, alcohol-impaired driving can certainly be one of them. If possible, move yourself away from that person, call 911 right away and report the vehicle so that the proper authorities can be on the lookout and stop that person.

What effect does alcohol have on someone operating a car?

The most common effects of alcohol are impaired perception, lack of judgment and coordination, poor attention, diminished spatial and safety awareness.

What should I do if I see a friend or family member attempting to get behind the wheel under the influence?

Never let someone get behind the wheel of a car when you feel that they are not safe to drive. Offer to take them home or allow them stay the night to sleep it off.

How do I know if I am safe to drive after I have had a drink or two?

You don’t, especially if it’s your first time under the influence of alcohol. It’s always important to know your body and what it can and cannot tolerate. This goes for any substance use including drinking alcohol. If you think you will be drinking and not sure how it will affect your body, then be sure to be with someone you trust and have a plan to get home safely. It can be as simple as telling a friend or a loved one that you plan on drinking and asking them to be your designated driver. It is advisable on any occasion to know who will be drinking and who will be the designated driver so that everyone can arrive home safe and sound.

What would you say to someone who drives under the influence knowingly?

Find the most considerate and firm way to speak your concern. If you know the person well enough, tell their family or friend about what you have noticed. Moreover, it is important to note that some states charge reckless endangerment or gross negligence for allowing someone to drive when that person is highly intoxicated.

Facts about drunk driving

  • About 27 people/day are killed due to drunk driving crash.
  • Drunk driving happens 4 times more at night than during the day.
  • Alcohol impaired driving is higher during the weekends than weekdays.

Although alcohol-related traffic deaths per population have decreased by 50% since 1980’s, driving under the influence of alcohol is still a dangerous and deadly issue.