What you need to know before drinking on New Year’s Eve

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – As you spend time on deciding what outfit to wear or which party to go to on New Year’s Eve, police officials are also hoping that you are putting the same effort into figuring out how you will be getting home safely.

Their warning is simple: Don’t drink and drive.

And before you take the wheel while intoxicated here’s what you need to know.

The national limit for one’s blood alcohol content or BAC is .08 percent.

You can measure your BAC just 15 minutes after you consume your first drink based on your impairment and a change in your behavior.

Your BAC level will remain within safe limits if you consume only one “standard” drink per hour.

But what exactly is a “standard” drink?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism a standard drink is equivalent to half an ounce of alcohol which means one 12 oz. beer, one 5 oz. glass of wine, or one a 1.5 oz. shot of distilled spirits.

But the amount of drinks it will take to reach a BAC level of .08 percent can vary from one person to the next, depending on multiple factors.

These factors include age, gender, rate of consumption, drink strength, body type, hydration, metabolism, medication you are on, food you’ve consumed, alcohol tolerance, and your overall health.

“We want to encourage everybody that once they had their first drink they should not drive,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Art Montiel. “They need to have a plan before they go their parties, their celebrations so that they know once they have a drink they are going to have a different way to get home.”

Officer Montiel says that the California Highway Patrol will implement its Maximum Enforcement Period to ensure a DUI and fatality free holiday for motorists.

“The MEP or the Maximum Enforcement Period is during the holiday we would have all the officers available come out and basically saturate the roads with stopping people for pretty much anything – any mechanical violation, any violation in order for us to be able to talk to the driver and to make sure they have not been drinking,” said Officer Montiel. “Last year we had a total of 450 arrests statewide and 14 people were killed at this time. We want to make sure this year we are going to minimize that amount.”

Officer Montiel encourages all party-goers to take advantage of some free public transportation services or to designate a sober driver.

“We want to encourage you to go out, have fun, and celebrate but we want to make sure you have a plan to get home safely,” said Officer Montiel. “Don’t let your celebration turn into a tragedy.”

The maximum enforcement period on California highways will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31 and continues through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4.

You can contact Rommel Conclara at rommel_conclara@abs-cbn.com and follow him on Twitter @rommelconclara for more information.

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