By Andrew R. Bronsnick
The holidays are generally a fun time for employees in workplaces across New Jersey. As previously discussed, there are several risks that employers and employees should know when preparing and throwing holiday parties.
Drivers and pedestrians on the road will need to be on high alert this holiday season because statistics demonstrate that Autumn – particularly in the afternoon and evening – is a high-risk time to be on the road. According to the Insurance Insitute for Highway Safety, one-third of all crash deaths in the U.S. occurred between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. in 2016. In the same year, 9,843 motor vehicle deaths involved a drunk driver between October and December – that’s 27% of the whole year, and New Jersey’s statistics are in line with the national averages. In fact, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) ranked New Jersey eighth-highest in DWI casualty rates in the U.S. with 137 in 2016.
Excessive drinking at company-sponsored holiday parties can add to these statistics and lead to DWI accidents. If a company employee injures another driver or bystander following a company-sponsored party, the employer is typically not liable for the damages. Even though alcohol was provided, under New Jersey Dram Shop Law, it’s unlikely the company or the establishment will be found liable for damages, but the incident can cause problems for everyone.
Holiday Safety Tips
- Know when to step in. If you are at a party (or any setting) where someone has had too much egg nog and will have to get behind the wheel, stop them, call an Uber or taxi and tell them the company has ordered the ride. Companies will often provide transportation just to avoid liability. And even if yours hadn’t from the outset, telling a manager of your actions is likely to be approved.
- Know what sobering up means. The myth that caffeine equals sobriety is absurd. An inebriated person having a coffee simply makes them more awake – it does not neutralize alcohol’s effects or make someone a more focused driver.
- Watch the co-worker get into the Uber or taxi. Communicate with the driver that unless your colleague is ill there should be no stops on the way to his/her home.
- Volunteer to be the designated driver. If you can party without a drink, you would be doing everyone a great service by volunteering to be the designated driver. Providing a safe ride for others will likely prevent injuries and casualties, and your colleagues will remember your good will.
- Sobriety Checkpoints. Sobriety checkpoints are allowed in New Jersey, providing police the chance to briefly stop vehicles at specific, highly visible locations to see if the driver is impaired. Police may stop all or a certain portion of drivers. Breath tests may be given if police have a reason to suspect the driver is intoxicated.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an auto accident or DWI collision in New Jersey, you need an experienced lawyer to communicate with the insurance companies, investigate the cause of the incident, obtain videos and cell phone records, identify witnesses, prove who was at fault and properly evaluate and present your injuries to ensure you receive maximum compensation.