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Steven M. Lee, PC

Q:
I’m planning to have a New Year’s Eve party, but I want to make sure my guests go home safe. What can I do to help prevent them from driving while drunk?

A:

Winter celebrations are all about getting together and sharing the cheer. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a Christmas get together or a New Year’s bash, alcohol will surely be a staple.

Across the nation spiked eggnog, champagne, cider, and cocktails will be served to hundreds of eager partygoers. Sadly, a result of this merriment is hundreds of alcohol-laden drivers taking to the roads.

However, this year can be different. This year, you can plan a memorable holiday party without the fear of potentially sending a guest to wreak havoc on the streets. After all, ’tis the season to be merry, and no one can do that when he suffers a catastrophic DWI accident.

Party Provisions to Limit Guests’ Drinking and Driving

In order to ensure driving sobriety at your next party, plan ahead. Make sure your guests get home safely by providing the following blowout party essentials.

  • Food. Although you may think having snacks or hors d’oeuvres is a no-brainer for a good party, the right food choices are what makes a party safe. Heavier foods can soak up alcohol and slow down its effects. Stick with carbohydrates and starchy foods such as breads, chips or potato dishes, and fruit—controlled complex sugars can offset the blood sugar-lowering effects of alcohol.
  • Non-alcoholic drink choices. You may not believe this, but not everyone likes to drink alcohol. Some people know their limit is too low to risk drinking, others may have adverse side effects to alcohol, and others may be designated drivers for the evening. However, if all you have to drink is alcohol, these guests may wind up going against their better nature just to quench their thirst. When setting up the bar area, include ice water, sparkling juices, and soda (the upside is that these drinks can also be used for mixers, so make sure you provide enough to cover both needs).
  • Proper mixers and recipes. If you’re going to have a bar set up, make sure that when mixing drinks you (or the bartender) know the proper proportions of alcohol to mix. A guest may think his limit is three gin and tonics, but if the bartender is heavy-handed on the gin, then your guest may be able to handle only one. Also pay attention to the types of mixers you have, as diet sodas can increase alcoholic effects and energy drinks can mask effects, causing a guest to drink more and take more risks.
  • Last call. Even though you may wish for the party to last all night, there’s a reason why bars have last call. Make sure you have and that your guests are aware of a pre-designated time where you’ll stop serving alcohol. A good rule is at least an hour before you plan to have your party come to an end.
  • Designated drivers. When inviting guests to your party, remind them that there’ll be alcohol and encourage them to bring their own designated driver. For those who forget or are unable to bring a DD, make sure you have at least one sober guest (or you yourself) to drive someone home if needed.
  • Taxi access. In the event that there aren’t enough designated drivers or guests live too far away for your DD to drive, make sure you have access to contact information for a taxi or driving service.
  • Guest room. In the event of an emergency, e.g., a guest passes out, make sure that you have space for him to sleep it off. You don’t necessarily need a guest room or need to sacrifice your bed, but a blow-up mattress, couch, or comfortable chair may wind up coming in handy.

Whatever your holiday plans may be—whether you’re planning a party, going to a party, or staying home with your family—always remember to be safe and never drink and drive.

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