You’re having a party, your friends have all come, and the alcohol is abundant. It’s all in fun, but sometimes the consequences can be devastating. According to the CDC and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 9,878 people died in alcohol-related traffic accidents in 2011. That’s one death every 53 minutes, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. The most at-risk drivers for alcohol-related crashes and fatalities include young people, motorcyclists and individuals who were previously involved in alcohol related crashes.

People who have had too much to drink often try to trick themselves into believing they can drive safely. They have a cup of coffee. They say they’ll go slowly. They put on their motorcycle helmet for protection, or declare, “it’s only a couple miles down the road.” But motorcycle helmets and cups of coffee can’t prevent a crash from occurring. Luckily you can work to protect your guests and loved ones from making bad choices while under the influence of alcohol.

  • Assign a designated driver: Designated drivers save lives. Make sure that your designated driver is reliable and has access to plenty of non-alcoholic drinks like soda, juice and water.
  • Offer food: People who have full stomachs absorb alcohol into their blood more slowly than people who have had nothing to eat and tend to drink less. Offer a variety of food options for your guests. Desserts, bowls of chips and salsas, finger foods, pizza delivery.
  • Hide the keys: Yeah, they’ll be mad at you at first, but they’ll get over it. It’s much better to have a minor argument than a major car accident. If you’re really worried about making your friend or guest angry, maybe you can convince him or her the keys are lost rather than stolen. You can “find” the keys in the morning, when the excitement is over.
  • Call a cab: Keep the phone numbers of local cab companies in the contacts on your cell phone. Watch out for friends who are intoxicated and let them know you’ll call them a cab when they’re ready to leave.
  • Find your friend a ride with someone who can drive: If you’ve noticed that one of your friends isn’t safe to drive, make arrangements for him or her to get a ride with someone else.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you serve: Put a cap on the amount of alcohol you plan to offer at your party, and stop serving at least an hour before the party ends.
  • Offer to let your friends spend the night: Alcohol makes people tired, so maybe it won’t be hard to entice your friend to stay at your place. If possible, have a guest bed already prepared with fresh sheets.

Sometimes it takes a little finesse to convince party goers to stay out of their car. Try to make light of the situation by telling a joke. Some people will react more reasonably if you speak about it in private. Public confrontations are more likely to create a scene that will embarrass your friend, which could lead to an argument. Make it clear that you’re doing your friend a favor. After all, DUI charges and drunk driving accidents have serious consequences, the least of which may be vehicle confiscation or license suspension. Or, it could be the end of someone’s life.