It’s been one year since Matthew DeRemer was killed on New Year’s Day in South Florida. It happened on Jan. 1, 2016, just hours after the 31-year-old U.S. Marine veteran posted an inspirational message about the power of a positive mind set and moving on after a series of setbacks in 2015. Just a few hours later, he was struck by another vehicle while on his motorcycle. That other driver, 59-year-old Stephen Lee Clarke, was allegedly drunk. He is still facing DUI manslaughter charges.
In DeRemer’s post, which was later shared tens of thousands of times, he reflected on the difficulty of the year, his renewed faith and his looking forward to a brand new chapter. He ended with, “I really don’t know where I’ll end up tonight, but I do know where I wind up is where I’m meant to be.” He died at the corner of 102nd Ave. N. and 98th Street in Largo, with the Florida State Highway Patrol finding that Clarke had turned left into DeRemer’s path, causing a collision.
New Year’s Day is widely known as the worst day of the year when it comes to impaired driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more people are ticketed for DUI on New Year’s Day than on any other holiday throughout the year.
Part of this, of course, is thanks to beefed up law enforcement presence. But hospitals and emergency crews too brace themselves for an onslaught of drunk driving accident victims.
The truth is, it’s not realistic to expect that people won’t indulge on New Years’ Eve. And as long as they are over the age of 21, there is nothing legally wrong with this. The problems occur when impaired drivers get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
Whether you are heading to a party this New Year’s Eve, or hosting your own gathering, Mothers Against Drunk Driving offers the following tips on how to ensure you and other guests will get home safely.
- Prior to the start of the party, make a plan to get home safely. If you plan to drink alcohol, designate a sober driver ahead of time. Leave your keys at home so there is no temptation. Download a ride-sharing app or save the name of a local taxi service in your phone.
- If you are aware someone has been drinking, don’t allow them to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. You don’t have to be confrontational. Have a couple of friends help if you are having trouble getting them to give up the keys. If they still insist, call police right away.
- Don’t ever get inside a car with someone who has been drinking. If you spot a driver who is clearly intoxicated, call 911.
- If you are the one throwing a party, make sure when guests RSVP to inquire about whether they have a safe way to get home. If not, work to arrange a sober driver or make a space so guests can sleep over if need be.
Keep in mind that the cost of an average DUI is $10,000. Cases that involve collisions, serious injury or the loss of life will result in even greater penalties, up to and including prison.
If you or your family is affected by a drunk driver this New Year’s Eve, we can help.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Tips to avoid a deadly New Year’s risk, Dec. 31, 2016, By Ashley Welch, CBS News
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Small v. Sayre – Importance of a Skilled Injury Attorney, Dec. 5, 2016, West Palm Beach Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog