The holiday season is the perfect time for you, your family, and your friends to come together and celebrate. Your friends may invite you to watch spooky movies. Your parents, similarly, might have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Or, your aunt may insist that you spend Christmas weekend at her cabin.
As part of the celebration, your roommate may suggest a few beers, your mother might call for a toast of champagne, or your cousins could pass around eggnog spiked with cognac. Though you and your loved ones can enjoy some sociable drinks together, keep in mind that DUIs also spike during the holiday season.
Statistics estimate that alcohol-impaired driving fatalities rise by as much as 34% between Christmas and New Year’s. Many experts dub Thanksgiving eve as “Black Wednesday” due to the high amount of alcohol consumption on that day.
Rather than join the statistics, you can take steps to stay safe during the holidays. The following tips, in particular, can help you drink responsibly:
1. Become an Alcohol Guru
Part of the fun of social drinking is exploring new combinations and tasting new flavors. However, different beverages have higher alcohol percentages than others. If you don’t know how much alcohol is in each one, you may struggle to know how many martinis, margaritas, or mojitos you can safely drink.
A regular beer, for example, may have about 5% alcohol, while a malt liquor may have 7%. A cordial may contain 24% alcohol, and a vodka could have as much as 40%. Some cocktails mix and match gin, vodka, tequila, and rum until the alcohol percentages become a hazy blur.
Before you take your first sip, do a little research into your chosen drink. Once you thoroughly understand the alcohol content of your Long Island Iced Tea or your Zombie Juice, you can then adjust your drink sizes to stay within reasonable limits and pace yourself accordingly.
2. Turn Down Drinking Games
When friends and family get together, good moods and positive attitudes likely abound. As the party progresses, your loved ones may call for exciting activities and party games to burn off extra energy and keep the laughter going.
However, you shouldn’t let everyone’s high spirits devolve into drinking excess spirits. Shot contests and drinking games (such as quarters or flip cup) encourage binge drinking, and the human body can’t keep up with rapid-fire alcohol consumption.
Rather than make alcohol the focus of your party, use it as a complementary activity. Plan a few safe games that everyone can participate in, no matter what your family members drink.
3. Wait Until You’re Sober to Drive
As a responsible adult, you already know that you should assign a designated driver before you walk into any party. But what if the party has been over for hours? You may feel clear-headed and ready to drive on your own, but lingering traces of alcohol may still be in your system.
Since any amount of alcohol impairs your judgment and slows your reaction time, you should wait until you’re completely sober before you grab those car keys. How long you wait will depend on your weight, gender, meals and water you’ve consumed, and medications you’ve taken.
To avoid any issues, give yourself at least a full eight hours to ten hours to completely clear your system before you sit behind the wheel.
4. Know Who to Contact During an Emergency
When you follow the above tips, you can keep your friends, your family, and yourself safe during the holidays. However, any alcohol in your system could still impair your judgment, and understandably, you may make a few mistakes.
As you prepare for your upcoming parties and gatherings, save a few emergency contacts to your phone. If you need medical assistance, have your doctor’s number on hand. If you don’t feel confident driving home on your own, know which taxi companies offer reliable services. If you find yourself in legal trouble, call a local DUI or criminal defense attorney for help.
With a little extra preparation and research, you can ensure that your get-togethers are a highlight of your holiday rather than a precursor for disaster.