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AS WE SEE IT: If you drink this holiday, please don’t drive

For the past several weeks we’ve been running ads from the Grayson ABC office about the dangers of drinking and driving. With New Years Eve coming up, we’d like to reinforce that message, and ask you to be sure and designate a driver this New Years Eve if you plan on drinking. Or, if you have no driver, be sure you have a plan for a place to sleep until the next morning. 

According to the National Safety Council, nearly 40 percent of holiday traffic fatalities involve drivers who are impaired by alcohol. They estimate that, this year, as many as 384 people – possibly as many as 467 people based on their 90 percent “confidence interval” – may die in traffic related incidents during this winter holiday period. The reason for these high numbers is that, with New Years Day falling on a Friday, the holiday period could last up to three days, increasing the possibilities of celebratory drinking and drinking related crashes. 

While numbers may actually be down this year, because of COVID-19 restrictions and concerns keeping bars closed and parties from being organized, there is still a very real risk associated with drunk driving. Even if you don’t drink yourself, your chances of being in an accident with someone who has been drinking are increased around any holiday, but especially the New Years holiday. 

If you do have a drink, you should know that it can take up to an hour or more per drink to metabolize the alcohol. It can take anywhere from an hour to three hours for the effects of consuming a drink to wear off. One drink typically means one twelve ounce glass of five percent alcohol beer, one five ounce glass of wine, or a one and a half ounce shot of 80 proof (40 percent alcohol) liquor. But because the alcoholic content of beers, wines, and liquor can vary, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Other factors, like weight and amount of body fat can also impact how quickly you metabolize liquor. If you’ve drank to the point you’re considered drunk, it can take anywhere from six to eight hours to be fully sober once again. (Figures taken from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.) But even one drink can begin to cause impairment, and the effects can begin in as little as ten minutes according the NIAAA. 

Even if you don’t drink to the point of inebriation, having a single drink begins to impact your reaction time and so – as the saying goes – even buzzed driving is drunk driving. Because of this, if you don’t have a designated driver, it’s probably best to make arrangements to sleep over somewhere if you’re planning on having any drinks. 

Let’s be clear here; there is nothing wrong with having a drink to celebrate and toast the New Year. But if you do have that drink, you need to be sure to give yourself plenty of time to sober up or – better yet – ask someone who isn’t drinking to take control of your keys and make sure everyone who does have a drink gets home safe. 

If you’re hosting a get-together, please make sure you have a place for any of your drinking guests to sleep. You might not just be keeping them out of jail, or saving their lives. You could be saving the lives of other people on the road too. 

Here’s to a happy, and safe, New Year. 

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