Holidays are No Reason to Drink and Drive

Holidays are a time to celebrate, and parties abound. As soon as one is over, another is knocking on the door. For many people, celebrations include alcohol, and for some, drinking is celebrating. During the holidays, many states increase police patrols, in specific places, or just about everywhere, really cracking down on drinking and driving.

It is always safest to have a designated driver if you plan to go out with friends or to take a cab or get a ride if holiday celebration gets out of hand. Here are a couple of other things to remember:

Some of the people drinking during the holiday season rarely drink, and do not always understand how much alcohol they can handle. This is one reason that everyone should take care during the holiday season not to drink and drive. Do not judge your ability to handle alcohol against someone else's tolerance level. Just because someone else thinks they can drive after a drink doesn't mean you can.

Sometimes it helps to decide how much you will drink before attending those holiday parties. Again, try to have a designated driver or alternate way of getting home if you drink. If possible, stay where you are.

Eating before and after drinking alcohol can help a person to tolerate their alcohol. Small, healthy snacks also help to suppress the urge to overindulge at parties. Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks during holiday parties. You will feel better in the morning, better than you would otherwise.

According to MADD, during the holiday season (from Halloween to New Years Day) in 2000, there were 2320 alcohol related fatalities. On Halloween in 2001, more than 80 people died in alcohol related crashes. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than twice the amount of people may die in alcohol related crashes on New Years Eve than on other winter evenings. (NIAAA, 2001)

During the holidays, drinking has the same effect on a person's response time, driving skills and common sense. In a word, that effect is "impairment." Just because the holidays are a special time does not mean that drinking and driving is any different, neither is how a person reacts to alcohol in their system. Drinking can give a person an over-exaggerated sense of confidence, which leads to taking greater risks and less care. Too many people take chances and let their guard down.

Remember that the holidays are a time for friends, family and fun, but drinking and driving does not have to be part of the celebration.

While it's technically legal to drink and drive – up to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 (if you're over 21), it's best to avoid driving if you've been drinking at all unless you have some way of measuring your level of intoxication, such as with an alcohol breath tester.