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How to enjoy the party and still drive sober

Whether it is beer, wine or an assortment of trendy cocktails, alcohol is served in various forms at most adult parties, and especially at New Year's Eve celebrations.

You and your friends are looking forward to a great evening, but if you are the driver, you have a decision to make: enjoy a drink or two, or abstain? Becoming involved in an auto accident seems unlikely. On the other hand, you never know what might happen down the road - literally.

Keep the statistics in mind

Statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are often provided in shortened form by MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. One of the more disturbing factoids cited is that two out of three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash during their lifetime. Another sobering statistic is that someone is injured in this kind of crash every two minutes in America.

Facts like these should make you very much aware of your responsibility in making sure that you and your friends get home safely after the party. Here are some tips to help you do that.

Drink mocktails

If you decide to abstain, you can enjoy everything from a Virgin Mary - Bloody Mary without the vodka - to an alcohol-free Strawberry Daiquiri. You can dress up non-alcoholic drinks with crushed ice, orange and lemon slices, maraschino cherries, straws and, of course, those little paper umbrellas. In fact, you can have so much fun coming up with these delicious beverages that you will never even miss the alcohol.

Enjoy the spread

Help your drinking friends. Remind them that a full stomach will slow down the rate of alcohol absorption. Think proteins and fats. People who drink should enjoy plenty of snacks, such as mozzarella sticks, or dive right into a great dinner spread. If you can encourage your friends to eat and be moderate about their drinking, they will be less likely to become totally inebriated.

Encourage an early end to drinking

If you have had nothing but soft drinks or mocktails, pat yourself on the back: You are perfectly capable of driving.

Keep an eye on your friends, though. Signs of passive behavior may indicate that they could be ready to leave soon. On the other hand, they may still be going strong in the wee hours. Keep in mind that the more gregarious or rowdy they are due to alcohol consumption, the more of a distraction they might become to you as their driver. If you can convince your friends to stop drinking at least an hour before you leave the party, they will have time to mellow out.

If you become a victim

Crashes involving drunk drivers are four times more likely to happen at night than during the day, according to NHTSA statistics. On New Year's Eve, and after weekend parties all year long, drunk drivers are out in force and you may become the victim in an accident you never saw coming.

Should this happen, it is hoped that you will not suffer grave injuries, but in any event, the next step will be to seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced with cases involving auto accidents can provide considerable support at a time of great stress and confusion, handle accident claims and ensure that you receive maximum compensation for any injuries you may have sustained.

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