The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is teaming up with the law enforcement community nationwide during the 2021 Holiday Season Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over high-visibility enforcement campaign, which runs from Dec. 15, 2021, through Jan. 1, 2022. NHTSA and the Iowa City Police Department are working tirelessly to spread the word about the dangers of drunk driving and to remind all drivers: If you plan to drink alcohol, plan ahead for a sober ride home. These expanded efforts to protect against impaired driving will be conducted in a fair and equitable way.

Sobering Statistics

According to NHTSA, 837 people lost their lives nationwide in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver in December 2019.

During the 2019 Christmas (6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec, 24 to 5:59 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 26) and New Year’s Day (6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, to 5:59 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019) holiday periods, there were more drunk driving related fatalities (210) than during any other holiday period that year. 

Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers. In 2019, there were 10,142 people killed in drunk driving crashes.

Of the traffic fatalities in 2019 among children 14 and younger, 19 percent (204) occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes.

Among the 10,142 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2019, 68 percent (6,872) were in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of .15 or higher.

Nighttime is a particularly dangerous time to be on the roads: The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 was 3.3 times higher at night than during the day. 

The Cost of Drunk Driving

On average, an operating while intoxicated conviction can set you back $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, and more.

The financial impact from impaired-driving crashes is devastating. Based on 2010 numbers (the most recent year for which cost data is available), impaired-driving crashes cost the United States $44 billion annually.

Drinking and driving can cause you to lose your driver’s license and your vehicle. This could inhibit you from getting to work, resulting in lost wages and, potentially, job loss.

Celebrate with a Plan

Always remember to plan ahead if you will be celebrating. If you plan to drink, plan for a sober driver to take you home. Is it your turn to be the designated driver? Take that role seriously and do not consume alcohol, not even one drink.

Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.

If available, use the University of Iowa's Nite Ride service. 

If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact the Johnson County Joint Emergency Communications Center at 319-356-6800.

Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

For more information about the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, visit

Date of publication

Tuesday, December 14, 2021