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Can you say moderation?

December 4, 2009
By MIKE HUGHES, The Ticket

THAT?TIME of the year is finally upon us.

The holidays are here.

While the season officially kicks off with Thanksgiving, there are still two major events to get through ... Christmas and New Year's Eve. Yes, New Year's Day is the officially recognized holiday, but for purposes of this article, it's the night before that's key.

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IT IS a safe bet that when holiday partygoers reach this point in the evening, the question of whether or not they’ve had too much to drink has become a moot point. If you choose to drink, the key is finding a happy medium between sobriety and this

It's time for family gatherings, festive get-togethers with coworkers and friends and the all-important New Year's Eve parties.

Synonymous will all three types of holiday functions is the inclusion of alcohol.

And while a good time may be had by all without serving spirits, there are those that feel that drinking at these shindigs is not only an added bonus but a downright necessity.

This is especially true with family Christmas parties because of the dreaded "I" word ... in-laws. There's a reason that some of the local drinking establishment will be open and rocking away late on Christmas Day. Some people will just need to get away from their families. Others may be there because they no family left to get away from. It's not ideal, but it happens.

And then you have New Year's Eve ... it is what it is.

But the key with any holiday gathering that involves alcohol is moderation. For those that feel the need to drink, they need to find that happy medium between sobriety and stupidity.

It's one thing to have, for example, a few glasses of egg nog to lighten the mood and partake in the holiday cheer. That's generally acceptable party behavior.

Getting sloshed and offering up a half-naked rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" in front of granny and the kiddies is not.

So if you feel the need to engage in drinking this holiday season, try keeping it to respectable level.

And further more, remember this phrase: "If you're going to drink, don't drive. If you're going to drive, don't drink.''

It's pretty self explanatory. There are no hidden meanings here.

The United Stated Department of Transportation estimated that between 2001-2005, roughly 45 people died daily in alcohol-related accidents between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

That's about 1,200 people for the season. In a country that houses more than 300,000,000 people, that might not seem like that large of a number.

But keep in mind, that's, at minimum, 1,200 families who had there lives torn apart during a time when being with family is most important.

And its also the easiest accident to prevent. For if no one drank and drove, there wouldn't be any alcohol-related accidents and no DUIs.

There are plenty of people out there who don't care for drinking. Find one and get them to drive. Offer up some money for gas. If you can't find any, bite the bullet for your family or friends and make this holiday season an alcohol-free one.

By 2005, every state in the Union established the 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC) limit as its standard level for determining inebriation.

Some states, like West Virginia and Ohio, take it a step further. In these states, commercial drivers are considered over the legal limit at 0.04. For drivers younger than 21, that drops even further to 0.02.

Pennsylvania has a tiered system for drunk-driving offenders. Offenders with a BAC between 0.08 and 0.99 receiving the lowest penalties. A BAC 0.10 and 0.159 is the mid-range for penalties and anything 0.16 and above receives the highest penalties. And as your BAC goes up, so does the jail time and potential fines.

This is done to try and curb non-sober drivers from getting behind the wheel. Sadly, plenty of people still feel the need to do so.

The body generally eliminates one standard drink per hour from its system. A standard drink is considered a 12 ounces beer, 3 ounces of 80-proof spirits, 5 ounces of wine.

Everything from age and gender to weight and tolerance level has an effect of how the ingestion of alcohol affects a person.

But the general rule of thumb still remains the same, don't drink and drive.

For those passengers who will be drinking during the holiday season, you're not off the hook either.

Having a designated driver does give you a free pass to make a drunken fool of yourself in front of family, friends and complete strangers.

Again, moderation is key.

Having a few beers, or a brandy or two may help lighten the mood. But a holiday binger is a sure-fire way to make a complete fool of yourself at best.

Being drunk is not an excuse to finally tell that brother-in-law how you really feel about him.

A good practice for the non-driving drinkers is to alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks.

Just pounded down a bottle of Sam Adams' Winter Lager? Try a glass of water or some tasty holiday punch before cracking open the next bottle.

Also put down your bottle, can or glass in between drinks. The more the drink is in your hand, the more inclined you will be to drink it quicker. This, however, is only advisable at family gatherings. For obvious reasons, putting down or walking away from your drink at a public outing is never advisable.

Hughes may be reached at



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