Think you're a drinking pro? Better think again

Friday, December 20, 2013

People who drink on a regular basis like to joke about "amateur night," before upcoming holidays like Christmas and New Years, times when those who imbibe less frequently may be out and about.

We're headed into one today, the weekend before Christmas when many of us will be celebrating at family or office parties.

NBC's Today show explored the topic recently, and found that many of us might not be as accomplished drinkers as we think we are.

Reporter Jeff Rossen invited a group to a restaurant, telling half the guests to drink as they normally would, and the other half not to drink at all, so they could serve as designated drivers.

When the evening was over, they were given surprise Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests.

The results surprised them.

One participant thought she would be safe with two drinks over a an hour or two. She "blew" a .1 percent, over the legal limit of .08.

Another thought he could safely drive two blocks home, but his blood alcohol results were .13; driving could have been a costly and dangerous mistake.

The message is, even one drink leaves you impaired; if you drink at all, don't drive.

It's not something to be taken lightly.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 40 percent of all traffic deaths around Christmas and New Year's involve alcohol. In the days around those two holidays, an average of 304 people die in drunk-driving crashes.

Nebraska had 299 alcohol-related vehicle crashes in November and December last year, and 313 the year before, according to the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety.

In 2012, 87 people died in alcohol-related crashes, 10 of them in November and December. As of Tuesday, 56 had died in alcohol-related crashes in 2013, according to Fred Zwonechek, Nebraska highway safety administrator.

It's illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of .o8 or above, with penalties increasing for .15 or above, and for each repeat offense.

The Nebraska State Patrol is certainly taking the issue seriously. It is using a $27,900 grant to pay overtime for troopers and communication specialists for its "You Drink & Drive, You Lose" special enforcement campaign now through Jan. 1.

Troopers are conduction high visibility patrols, DWI checkpoints and other efforts to remove impaired motorists from roadways and remind drivers to never get behind the wheel after drinking.

You can help save a life by dialing 911 or the Nebraska State Patrol Highway Helpline by dialing *55 (when safe to do so) from any cellular phone or 1-800-525-5555 from any landline.

You're probably drunker than you think!

Visit http://1.usa.gov/JPchDS

Check out the Today Show holiday party experiment here: http://on.today.com/1i7mnOy

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