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Ways to avoid a DUI

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Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious problem in the United States; it also has serious safety, legal, and monetary consequences for Americans. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, three people are killed in alcohol-related highway crashes every two hours.

The consequences of driving under the influence include arrests, property damage, injuries, and thousands of deaths.

Costs of DUI

How many DUIs are there in any given year? An estimated 4 million U.S. adults reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in 2010, with men accounting for 81 percent of DUIs.

In many states, multiple offenders face the prospect of an extended stay in jail, and that's assuming other people aren't harmed. Alcohol-related highway crashes accounted for 13,365 deaths in 2010, and carries an annual cost of nearly $40 billion.

Avoiding a DUI

Here's how to avoid alcohol-related crashes while on the road.

1. Plan Ahead

Motorists should plan ahead in order to prevent putting themselves in risky situations. If you're planning to drink heavily during Super Bowl weekend, make sure that you have more than one possible designated drivers. Often, the risk is that designated drivers themselves become impaired by consuming alcohol.

Have more than one alternate driver who plans to stay sober, and the multiplicity of options reduces the risk that you won't find a sober designated driver once the game is over. If your party host has an extra bedroom where you can sleep for a few hours, the better.

2. Dangers of Medication

Medication, such as sleeping pills and some pain killers, can impair your senses and mental judgment. Taking certain drugs before driving on the road can get you in trouble for a DUI.

Ask your doctor about the effects of prescriptions you're about to take. Read drug labels carefully, and avoid driving if such medicines impair you.

3. Install a Breath Analyzer

If you have an alcohol problem, consider installing a breath analyzer in your vehicle. These technologies typically prevent your car from starting if you have a high blood alcohol level.

Installing such technologies prevent nightmare situations in which you end up hurting other motorists and yourself.

4. Taxi Service

Always have the phone number of your local cab company in your wallet. Save the number on your phone or tablet.

You'll be prepared to have someone else safely drive you home. You also won't feel pressured to drive yourself home if there are no designated drivers available.

5. Comply With Authorities

If you've been drinking and are pulled over by police officers, remain calm. Don't freak out; they are there to prevent people from getting hurt, including yourself.

Relax. Roll down your window. Get your license, registration and insurance ready. Keep your hands on the wheel, where the officer can see them. At this point, your fate may depend on the sobriety tests they're about to give you.