Drinking on New Year’s Eve? Read This First

The parties! The food! The alcohol! You want to have a memorable New Year’s celebration, but you don’t want to remember it for the wrong reasons.

Celebrating the new year is a time-honored tradition, but one that can end in tragedy if revelers aren’t careful. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one person dies due to an alcohol-related accident every 52 minutes — more than 10,000 people annually. If you’re ringing in the new year with alcohol, use these tips to avoid becoming a statistic.

Have a sober driver. If you’re going to be out with loved ones on New Year’s Eve, have one nondrinking person designated as the sober driver. Don’t drink alcohol if you don’t know how you’re going to get home.

In Texas — as well as most other states — a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 percent is considered intoxicated. First-time adult offenders can be punished with a fine of as much as $2,000, jail time, a suspended license, a surcharge to keep your license, an educational program about driving while intoxicated and a possible requirement of an ignition interlock device.

If you’re going to a party, make sure you fill up on food. Try looking for high-protein snacks, such as nuts and beef jerky, which can help to slow alcohol absorption. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach.

Men who weigh 180 pounds can have a BAC of .08 percent after having four drinks in one hour, with a 120-pound woman having a BAC of .08 after just two drinks.

Be careful, even after you’ve stopped drinking. According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, your BAC only drops by.015 percent each hour after you’ve stopped drinking.

• If you don’t have a sober driver, find one. Before you go out, download the NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which is available for Apple or Android devices. This app features three simple buttons on its home screen — “Get Taxi,” “Where Am I?” and “Call Friend” — and SaferRide allows you to choose from local taxi services, call a contact that you have preprogrammed into the phone or use the location mapping to learn exactly where you are.

Drinking and driving is a bad combination, so be smart as you make decisions about your New Year’s festivities.

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