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Supervisor Venditto: Think Before You Drink This Holiday

Vehicular crashes that result from drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol are entirely preventable, but despite major ad campaigns warning about the perils of drinking and driving, driving while intoxicated continues to be a major problem in this country. Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto issued his annual appeal for residents to stop and think before they drink and then drive this holiday season.

“Unfortunately, the round of celebrations with family and friends, which are so much a part of the holidays, sometimes leads party-goers to overindulge in alcohol,” Venditto said. “While many people have a heightened awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving, with Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s just around the corner, a timely reminder about the responsibilities of the party-goer, as well as the party-giver, might just make someone think twice.

“If you are hosting a party and plan to serve alcohol, have non-alcoholic beverages available, as well. Avoid carbonated mixers as the carbonation speeds up the absorption of alcohol. Measure drinks and don’t ‘double up.’ Serve food to act as a buffer for the alcohol; high protein, high carbohydrate foods absorb alcohol at a higher rate than sugary foods. Stay away from salty foods, because they stimulate thirst. Do not serve alcohol to any guest who is displaying obvious signs of intoxication.

“Give guests time between drinks to experience the effects of one drink before offering another,” Venditto advised. “One drink an hour is about all the body can absorb. Never push guests to drink. Offer activities or entertainment as a diversion from drinking and eating. Stop serving alcohol at least two hours before the end of the party. And, before your guests leave, make sure they are capable of driving home safely. If you feel any of your guests is not in condition to drive, arrange for them to go home with someone else or invite them to stay overnight.

“When it comes to office parties, I always suggest that employees arrange carpools with non-drinking employees doing the driving to and from the party. The designated driver system has become widely accepted by many groups, bars and college campuses. Some establishments will even pick up the tab for the designated driver’s drinks…non-alcoholic, of course. Another thought is to have the office party at a place that is within walking distance of the office. This avoids the issue of driving altogether.

“A party is a natural way to celebrate the holidays, but driving under the influence of alcohol puts your life, and the lives of everyone around you, at risk,” Venditto commented. “So please, if you’re going to drink, don’t drive, and if you’re going to drive, don’t drink. Don’t take the chance that a hospital room or funeral home will be the setting for your next gathering of family and friends.”