Nobody wants to drive drunk. Nobody wants to endanger the lives of others or themselves by getting behind the wheel after having a few too many. Nobody wants to lose their license, go to jail or be fired from their jobs.
Drinking and driving just isn't worth it.
While this is the case all the time, it's especially true this time of the year when there are many holiday parties and get-togethers combined with poor weather and darker evenings.
The role of a wine columnist, however, is not necessarily to preach. Rather, we would like to offer a few tips for how to avoid getting drunk and the shame of being hit with a DUI.
The first tips are obvious:
-- Decide on a designated driver before you leave for a party where alcohol will be served.
-- Take a taxi home.
But many will say that these are designed to take the fun out of an event, and someone should be able to have a glass or two of wine during dinner with friends.
With that in mind, here are a few more thoughts:
-- A few hours before you leave for an event, start your car and walk around it, looking for headlights or taillights that are out. Police will use a burned-out headlight as an excuse to pull you over at times of night when someone might be driving drunk. If you have any alcohol on your breath, that's a signal to give you a sobriety test. Remember that you can be hit with a DUI even if your blood alcohol level is below 0.08, so don't give police any reasons to pull you over.
-- Avoid pre-dinner cocktails and stick to wine. The alcohol level is lower, and the wine actually goes with the food (unless you're talking about olives and pearl onions).
-- Before your first glass of wine, drink at least 8 ounces of water. Wine writer Dan Berger says this will get your kidneys in functioning mode, and water already will be in your system and ready to dilute any alcohol you consume before it hits your bloodstream. He further suggests drinking at least 8 ounces of water for every 6 ounces of wine. This has the added bonus of virtually eliminating any hangover effects the next day.
-- Start with lower-alcohol wine, such as bubbly. As you progress to higher-alcohol wines, drink less from each glass.
-- Eat everything on your plate, especially high-protein foods that will slow the absorption of alcohol and dilute what is in your system. If you eat rich, oily foods before you drink, your system is likely to absorb less alcohol into your bloodstream.
-- Regulate the amount of wine in your glass. If you're pouring your own wine, stick to just a couple of ounces at a time. If someone else is pouring for you, ask them to stop before the glass is more than a third full.
-- During a multi-course meal, take no more than a sip or two to see how each pairs with the food.
-- If you are at an event that will last three or four hours, drink less and less as the evening progresses. Try to stop consuming alcohol at least an hour before you plan to leave and switch to water and coffee.
-- Girth matters. If you're smaller, you likely cannot absorb quite as much alcohol. Additionally, women absorb alcohol differently into their bloodstreams, so they need to be even more careful.
The best way to not drive drunk is to avoid situations where you drink more than your body can handle. Wine is an agricultural gift from nature. Treat it with the respect it deserves, not simply something to guzzle.
*Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, a website that provides news and information about the wines of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.