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Don't let a DUI spoil your holiday
Health advice
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One night, a police officer was staking out a particularly rowdy bar for possible violations of DUI laws. At closing time, he saw a fellow stumble out of the bar, trip on the curb, and try his keys on five different cars before he found his. Then, he sat in the front seat fumbling around with his keys for several minutes. Everyone left the bar and drove off. Finally, he started his engine and began to pull away. The police officer was waiting for him. He stopped the driver, read him his rights and administered the breathalyzer test. The results showed a reading of 0.0. The puzzled officer demanded to know how that could be. The driver replied, "Tonight, I'm the Designated Decoy."
Isn't it amazing what people will think of to get around the law?  What happened to "friends don't let friends drive drunk?"
In 2001, more than half a million people were injured in crashes where police reported that alcohol was present — an average of one person injured almost every minute. And unfortunately, about three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.
Impairment is not determined by the type of drink, but rather by the amount of alcohol ingested over a specific period of time. A standard drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 72-proof distilled spirits, all of which contain the same amount of alcohol – about .54 ounces. Beer is the drink most commonly consumed by people stopped for alcohol-impaired driving or  involvement in alcohol-related crashes.  In fact, beer is the drink of choice in most cases of heavy drinking, binge drinking, drunk driving and underage drinking. On average, a first-time drunk driving offender has driven drunk 87 times prior to being arrested.
So what do these statistics tell us?  It's very clear: Do not drive when drinking.  Impaired driving makes the winter holidays some of the deadliest times of the year. Research has shown that stressful events around the holiday season significantly influence the use of alcohol, and that all drivers have increased impairment risks after drinking alcohol.
Remember, one drink equals 5 ounces of 12 percent wine, 12 oz. of 5 percent beer or 1 1/2 oz. of 80 proof liquor.    
Time is the only thing that can sober someone up – neither coffee nor a cold shower can do it.
Tips for party givers: (source: National Commission Against Drunk Driving)
1. When your guests arrive, collect their car keys. That way, when they are ready to leave, they must get a second opinion on whether they're sober enough to drive.
2. Always serve food with alcohol. High protein and carbohydrate foods like cheese and meats are especially good. They stay in the stomach much longer, which slows the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol.
3. Have several jiggers or self-measuring 1-ounce bottle spouts at the bar to mix drinks. Guests are less likely to drink excessively when standard measures are used.
4. If you serve alcoholic punch, use a non-carbonated base such as fruit juice. The body absorbs alcohol faster when mixed with carbonation.
5. Serve non-alcoholic beverages. It is possible that some of your guests will not want to drink alcohol.
6. Stop serving alcohol about two hours before the party is over.
7. If you observe a guest drinking too much: engage him/her in conversation to slow down the drinking; offer high protein food; offer to make the next drink, using less alcohol and mixing it with a non-carbonated base.

When party's over
If one of your guests has been drinking and shouldn't drive, please don't give them back their car keys and let them drive.  
• Suggest that you or a sober friend drive your alcohol-mpaired friend home.  
• Suggest that your impaired friend stay overnight in your home. This may sound inconvenient, but you could be saving your friend's, or someone else's life.
• Have your friend taken home in a taxi. Pay for the ride yourself. It's hard to object to a free ride.
• Whatever you do, don't give in. Friends don't let friends drink and then drive. In the morning, you'll have a safer and maybe an even closer friend.
December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. Let’s work to lower statistics and improve the holiday season.
Linda Ratcliffe is the public information officer for the Liberty County Health Department.
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