The Juneau Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving urges all of us to make a resolution to be safe this New Year's Eve and take every precaution to prevent drunk driving.
In Alaska last year, 41 people lost their lives to drunk driving, and the costs of all alcohol- and drug-related car crashes are estimated to be above $21 million. In 1999, one out of every 127 people in Juneau was stopped for drunken driving. Of those, 21 percent had a prior drunken driving arrest.
As a community, there are a number of things we can do to prevent the tragic loss of life, health and property that result from drunken driving. The easiest and most affordable solution is to designate a sober driver. Decide on who will be the driver before any drinking begins and then encourage and reward that person. Or call a cab or take the bus. As a last resort, stay where you are. An adult liver can eliminate an ounce of alcohol in about an hour. Nothing can speed up the process, not coffee, fresh air, a shower or food. The only thing that makes a person sober is time.
If you're hosting a party, remember these simple tips: Offer non-alcoholic drinks, too. About a third of adult Americans don't drink alcohol at all. Serve high-protein, low-salt snacks. These will stay in the stomach longer and slow the absorption rate of the alcohol. Have a designated bartender who monitors how much alcohol guests consume and can stop serving someone who has had too much.
Also: Stop serving alcohol two hours before the party ends and give your guests dessert and decaffeinated coffee. If one of your friends has had too much to drink, quietly but firmly tell them you cannot let them drive. Offer to call a cab, send them home with a sober driver, or ask them to stay the night at your house.
This holiday season we have a lot of options to help us celebrate responsibly. These options do not include driving drunk. For more information, call Juneau MADD at 463-2562.