Happy New Year! But, First, a PSA…

2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit
Photo courtesy of Chrysler Group LLC

Just like everyone else, I get plenty of e-mail traffic and social media reminders of the holiday season. They are coupled with messages reminding us to be safe and careful on the roads. Drunk driving…buzzed driving…distracted driving…you name it, message received!

There is a lesson somewhere amid these messages. My lesson here came on New Year's Eve in 1985 when I was at a house party at a friend's house in Reseda with a rented 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. I was hosting a bowl watching party at my house the next day, so I knew I had to be home to set that up. Well…I had a damn good time! I brought a few bottles of Sutter Home White Zinfandel that went down quite easy. So were the screwdrivers…

From what I recall (or was reminded by friends afterwards), I was ready to go…and that was it. I'm glad I didn't leave at that moment, because I did not have my keys on me when I woke up at a friend’s bedroom snoozing off my alcohol intake. I do recall asking for my keys after feeling a bit better. Before leaving the party, I was told to avoid certain streets as there were checkpoints en route to my house. I'm glad I made it home safe.

I was 21. I could have been in the drunk tank in Van Nuys that night. I sure as hell didn't want that on my record.

As I got older, I've been good about not drinking and driving. In fact, I'm no longer a regular drinker…I haven't had a drink in months! There are plenty of reasons for this. Not because of some peer pressure or a campaign against drunk driving. It is because I don’t feel like it.

I've also seen the flip side. When I drove a taxi in Marin County, California some 20-plus years ago, I picked up enough drunks to justify my current drinking status. It was never pretty sometimes.

Like Jamie Foxx said, you could "blame it on the alcohol" all you want. It is a point of responsibility where you have to take a course of action towards self-control.

As a service of this website, let me impart some ways to avoid any issues during this coming weekend. For starters, have a plan. What if you drove to the venue and drank the night away? You could have a designated driver lined up in case this happens. Maybe someone you know could play sober cab for you as you hop from one place to another. I also suggest having enough cash in your wallet for a cab as your fail safe move.

In some urban areas, public transit is available for free during those evenings. You may want to check if your nearest route has that program in place and whether it is available to you. There are also other programs in your area that will save you a trip to the pokey.

Keep in mind that public safety departments are on their heaviest patrols during New Year's Eve and Day. Some jurisdictions could make things a bit more difficult for you if you are caught under the influence during this weekend.

I'm not here to judge you. You have the freedom to do whatever you want. Understand that the freedom you express through your want to drink on a holiday away from your home has a few consequences. I'd rather see you make it through the coming days after you had the time of your life.

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