It’s about responsibility

Two things are coming as we approach the new year and it is wise to be aware that they loom:

The first is the insanity of New Year’s Eve when far too many people give themselves permission to act in ways they would never act on any other day. They go a little nuts, they drink too much, they embarrass themselves, their families and their hosts – unless their hosts are equally blasted – and then they do the most foolish thing they can:

They get into their cars and they drive.

And this often brings them into contact with the second thing of which they had better be aware:

The police know that people are going to drink and drive on New Year’s Eve and they are out there looking for them. Sometimes they even use roadblocks where they stop multiple cars and check the drivers for impairment.

And they catch a lot of them, but that’s a good thing. The more drunken drivers the police catch, the more lives they probably save – the lives of drivers, passengers and those in other cars.

We always find it remarkable that people know three things about New Year’s Eve and ignore them anyway:

1. They shouldn’t drink more than they can reasonably handle.

2. If they drink too much – or even think they might have had too much to drink – they shouldn’t drive.

3. If they ignore items 1 and 2, they stand a good chance of being pulled over by the police and eventually losing their licenses to drive.

All they really have to do is concentrate on item 3 because that should cause them to be much more careful about their drinking.

Losing one’s license to drive isn’t just about the inconvenience of having to find another way to get around. It’s also about money. It costs a lot to deal with a drunken driving conviction – thousands of dollars.

The other issue with too much drinking on New Year’s Eve, or any other night, is responsibility. If you are hosting a party, and it’s clear that one of your guests is blasted, what is your responsibility to him and to your community? Should you make sure that he won’t be driving? If he came alone, should you offer him a place to sleep for the night and if he declines, should you just hide his keys?

Suppose you see that someone is in no condition to drive after drinking at your home, and you let him or her leave anyway and then they get into an accident. Can you be held responsible? There have been cases made against bars for overserving. Could a case be made against an individual who hosted a party?

The point is, all this is avoidable. The first responsibility falls upon the person who drove to the party and has to drive home. Don’t drink. Have fun at the party and promise yourself a really big drink when you get home. Either that or make sure you came with someone who isn’t drinking.

But there is a host’s responsibility, too. If someone is blasted, you can’t let him – or her – drive. It’s that simple. It’s on you if they do, and if they kill themselves or someone else, you have at least moral culpability.

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