In collaboration with Mothers Against Drunk Driving

This article is presented in collaboration with MADD Canada’s Project Red Ribbon Campaign.

The holiday season is in full swing and you’re likely planning to get together with friends and family to celebrate. While picking out the perfect outfit and adding hits to your playlist may be top of mind, it’s important to remember that impaired driving is especially high during the holiday season. Whether you’re attending a party or hosting one of your own, keep these tips in mind to promote sober driving and keep everyone safe.

When you’re hosting guests at home

When hosting a holiday party at your home, it’s important to keep track of how your friends are arriving and how they plan on getting home. After all, if you know one of your friends has had too many drinks or used cannabis products and you still let them get behind the wheel, you could be held legally responsible if they end up in a collision.

Before the party starts, plan and prepare for guests to leave their cars at your place overnight by:

  • Making space in your driveway for cars to park
  • Contacting your local bylaw office ahead of time to find out if street parking is allowed overnight to spare your guests from unexpected parking tickets
  • Pre-ordering cabs, designated driver services, and other transportation options before the party’s over

Hosting a holiday party? @MADDcanada recommends pre-ordering cabs, designated driver services, and other transportation options to make sure everyone gets home safe and sound.

As your guests arrive, ask if they plan on drinking, and collect keys from anyone who says yes. Throughout the party, try to monitor how much alcohol your guests are consuming. According to a national survey by MADD Canada, one in ten drivers think it isn’t a big deal to drive after consuming a few drinks, consuming cannabis, or consuming an illicit drug. In fact, some drivers will insist they’re okay to drive because they don’t feel impaired, they don’t have to drive far, or they think they can drive carefully. If you’re not sure whether your guest is sober enough to drive, it’s best to err on the side of caution and find them a safe ride home.

Despite your efforts to get everyone home safe and sound, you may have to make space for your guests to sleep over. Take these simple steps to keep your surprise overnight guests comfy:

  • Make the bed in the guest room (if you have one)
  • Stash some extra sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows in your basement or den
  • Stock the bathroom with guest-friendly toiletries and clean towels
  • Be prepared to serve coffee and breakfast to anyone who spent the night and expect them to stick around — if your guests were drinking until the early hours of the morning, they likely won’t be ready to drive home right away

When you’re attending a party at someone else’s home

When attending a holiday party at someone else’s home, keep this advice in mind if you’re going to be drinking alcohol or consuming cannabis:

  • Leave your car at home — you can’t be tempted to drive after having a couple of drinks if you never bring your car out with you in the first place
  • Plan to use a rideshare service or call a cab, arrange a designated driver, take public transit, or stay the night
  • Never ride with an impaired driver — even if your friend who has had a few drinks insists that they’re sober enough to drive, find another way home

Heading out to a holiday party at a friend’s home? @MADDcanada recommends leaving your car at home so you won’t be tempted to drive home after having a couple of drinks.

If you don’t plan on drinking or consuming cannabis, consider volunteering to be a designated driver for your friends. As the designated driver, it will be your job to get everyone home safely, so remember to be extra defensive on the road. At night, your chances of driving near an impaired driver are higher than normal, and it’s even more likely now as one in four Canadians say they’ve increased their alcohol consumption since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you see a driver you suspect is impaired, call 911.


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