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8 key facts about drinking, driving and the holidays

When the holidays roll around, children come home from college. They're off for the entire summer and holidays like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day, or they're off for a few weeks in the winter for Christmas and New Year's Day.

As a parent, you're wondering about the odds of a DUI. Is your child at risk? Unfortunately, you should know that the risk does climb around the holidays. Below are eight key facts that you should know.

1. Some have called the Fourth of July one of the most dangerous days to be on the roads, due to the high level of drinking and driving. In fact, some studies have said that no other single day brings about the same level of risk.

2. Men drink and drive more than women, and it's not close. Roughly 80 percent of drunk drivers are male.

3. Men between the ages of 21 and 34 are the greatest risk. Though they make up a mere 11 percent of the total population in the country, they account for about a third of all DUIs. This means your college-aged child is perfectly in that high-risk demographic.

4. The night is more dangerous than the day, with about four times as many crashes that involve alcohol. In fact, the most dangerous time starts at midnight and runs until three in the morning.

5. When polled, half of those who responded said that drinking and the holidays simply went together in their families. It's part of the tradition and part of the culture. Even if you don't let your child drink at home, he or she could be drawn into this culture with friends or other family members.

6. Even if your child gets through the summer without a DUI, the fall brings perhaps the largest risk. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a bigger bar night than New Year's Eve, and experts note that this is especially true with college students.

7. Over-drinking is also part of the holidays. While adults may drink any time during the year, a full 16 percent said that the holidays increased their alcohol consumption. Again, this speaks to the culture of any holiday, from Labor Day to Christmas.

8. A full 13.2 percent of the country's overall population, when looking only at those who are 16 years old and older, admits to driving drunk. That means your child is far from alone, with millions of other drunk drivers.

As you can see, you're right to worry about the risk over the holidays. If your child does get a DUI, you'll both then start worrying about the future. What does it mean for school enrollment? How will it impact scholarships? What does it mean for graduating and getting a job? These are all important questions to ask, and your child must know all of his or her legal options.

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