Responsible Holiday Cheer

By Chelle Cordero

November 10, 2014 5 min read

From Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, many people have a heavy social schedule filled with holiday parties and gatherings, and most of those gatherings include fun, conversation and libations. Drinking responsibly will help to make the party a pleasant memory that you and your friends can talk about for years to come.

The number of alcohol-related fatal accidents is consistently higher during the holiday season, according to M.A.D.D., and the majority of drivers with a too-high blood alcohol level are males younger than 35, although incidents involving female drivers are on the rise. Drinking and driving affects everyone on the road, including the driver and everyone in his or her vehicle. If you're arrested for driving under the influence, it could cost you substantial amounts of money, including paying for damages that occur from an accident, legal fees for your defense, loss of the ability to drive, increased insurance fees and more.

While it is not a definitive measure, the following information will help you to realize what your blood alcohol level might be after having a few drinks:

One drink is the equivalent of a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor. After three drinks, a 120-pound female will have an approximate 0.081 blood alcohol content, and after five drinks, a 180-pound male will have a blood alcohol level of 0.09. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada have laws making it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.08 percent (80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood). These numbers are only a guide. Factors such as time (duration) of drinking, food consumption and individual metabolic rates will affect the results.

The next time you are planning to attend a festive holiday get-together, be sure to employ a few precautions and enjoy yourself without recriminations. Go in a group and ask someone to act as a designated driver -- this person does not drink any alcohol. Don't give in to pressure from your host, the bartender or other guests to drink more than you planned. Know your limit with alcohol, and do not exceed it. A good standard (for most people) is to have no more than one drink per hour and eat plenty of high-protein snacks in between. Never drink on an empty stomach. Remember that even if you feel sober enough to drive and seemingly can navigate the roads successfully, if you are involved in a mishap or are stopped by a police officer along the way, you may still wind up with a DUI on your record.

If you are hosting a party, there are a few things you can do to keep drinking at a responsible level. Remember: If an auto accident happens after a guest leaves your house (or place of business), you could be held financially and legally responsible if the driver is found with alcohol in their system.

--Don't be afraid to collect car keys as guests enter, and then be sure to remain sober yourself so you can keep guests from driving drunk.

--Serve food. It's especially helpful to provide high-protein items such as cheese, nuts and meats because they will help people to metabolize the alcohol faster.

--Don't be pushy with refilling guests' drinks, and ask them what they would like to drink rather than just putting alcohol in their hands.

--Serve nonalcoholic beverages, as well, and let your company know they are available. If you have a drink table, display the nonalcoholic drinks alongside the alcohol. Offer "virgin drinks" (nonalcoholic equivalents to common bar drinks) in case anyone feels conspicuous without a "drink" in their hands.

--Stop serving alcoholic drinks about an hour before the party's end, and serve coffee or tea and a high-protein snack before anyone leaves.

--Have a list of cab company numbers on hand or extra blankets and pillows for anyone who is too inebriated to drive. If you are throwing your bash in a hotel, ask management for group rates in case any guests prefer to spend the night.

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