Holiday drinkers warned not to drive

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 30, 2005

Everyone will be ringing in the New Year this weekend, and for many, that includes alcohol in the festivities. The worries of drunk drivers on the road during the New Year's weekend always go up not only for law enforcement officers, but for the average citizen as well.

Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram said that he would have extra officers on duty this New Year's Eve.

&#8220We want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday, but at the same time, be very careful,” Ingram said.

He stressed the importance of having a designated driver or calling someone to come pick you up if you have been drinking during the weekend's festivities.

&#8220Driving under the influence is a very serious offense, and it's one we take seriously,” he said.

The traffic fatality prediction for New Year's in Alabama is that 16 people may die in traffic crashes during the 78-hour period from 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30, through midnight Monday, Jan. 2, 2006.

Last year, 22 people died during the 78-hour New Year's travel period, with 18 on rural roads and four in urban areas.

At least 10 of the deaths involved alcohol, and eight of the crash victims were not using safety belts.

A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater is the level at which a driver is considered legally intoxicated. Just three drinks in one hour are enough to put a 160-pound person over the legal limit.

Some experts say that many drunk driving crashes and arrests actually happen the morning after a night of drinking. These are called &#8220morning after DUIs.”

&#8220I've had not just one, but several instances where the next morning people have been going through drive-through restaurants to get their breakfast, and because they were still intoxicated at 7:30 or 8 a.m., they've run into the wall,” DUI attorney Lee Meadows said. &#8220These were people who had stopped drinking hours before and thought that they were fine.”

Authorities say that you should wait at least an hour for each drink you have had before driving. That means if you've had eight drinks, you need to wait at least eight hours before driving.

While body weight and the rate of alcohol consumption directly influence the amount of alcohol needed to make a person drunk, nothing will prevent alcohol from entering the bloodstream.

The average 170-pound male would need to consume more than four drinks in an hour on an empty stomach to reach a BAC of 0.08 percent. An average 137-pound female would need three drinks in one hour on an empty stomach to reach that level.

A standard drink is 12 grams of pure ethanol, which equals 12 ounces of beer or wine cooler, eight ounces of malt liquor, five ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (whiskey, etc.).

Young legal drinkers, ages 21 to 34, are responsible for more alcohol-related fatal crashes than any other age group.

They comprise more than half of all the impaired drivers involved in alcohol-related fatal crashes; are the most resistant to changing drinking and driving behavior; are about twice as likely as other drivers to have experienced a prior crash, and are four times more likely to have had their licenses suspended or revoked.

Oftentimes, people think that if they do certain things, it will help them to sober up more quickly. Drinking coffee, going for a brisk walk or taking a cold shower are not good ways to sober up after drinking. Drinking milk or eating a meal before drinking alcohol will not prevent a person from getting drunk. Also, some people believe that if they roll down the car window or just drive slower, they will be okay, while in actuality, a drunk driver gains nothing by rolling down the window or turning on the air conditioner. As for driving more slowly, an impaired driver is unsafe at any speed.

When it comes to hosting New Year's Eve parties, consider offering guests a choice of drinks, not just alcohol.

Serve various types of juices, non-alcoholic punches and cocktails, tea, coffee and soft drinks.

Here are two recipes for two New Year's Eve &#8220mocktails.”

A New Year's Eve Kiss consists of 2 ounces of passion fruit juice in a champagne flute. Simply fill the flute with club soda.

Designated Driver's Delight:

2 1/2 ounces orange juice

1 1/4 ounces pineapple juice

1 1/4 ounces cranberry juice

2 scoops vanilla ice cream

3-4 frozen strawberries

Mix in a blender until smooth. Serve in a glass with an orange slice and a strawberry.

For more information on teenagers and drinking, please visit

For additional information, contact the Department of Public Safety, Public Information/Education, 334-242-4445.