UNITED STATES—Let’s face it, when the New Year arrives its time to celebrate. With most celebrations, the amount of alcohol flowing will be at gargantuan levels. When I think of New Year’s Eve celebrations, I just think of people getting hammered and not in a good way.

It seems whenever people have an excuse to drink, they take things too far sometimes not realizing the consequences.  The eve of 2014, could be one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Why? Well you’ll likely have plenty of people who will be driving while under the influence.

It’s not something to be taken lightly. So many people think they can ‘handle’ their alcohol, but fail to realize just a small shot of liquor, or a glass of wine or beer can have on their impairment behind the wheel.

I like to believe the idea of the designated driver, but how many people actually go out and there lies that sole person who doesn’t drink and ensures that everyone gets home safely. I hate to say it, but it rarely happens. Even the designated driver might indulge in a drink or two, and that’s all it takes for something bad to happen.

Have we ever turned our attention to the notion of celebrating with non-alcoholic beverages? Wait! Yes, I said it non-alcoholic beverages. It’s not the end of the world, if you celebrate without being so drunk you barely remember what happened. Heck, if you ask me that is the worse feeling in the world. Of course, I’m speaking from personal experience.

I’m not an avid drinker; alcohol is something my body rarely agrees with for the most part, so when I do indulge in a bit of alcohol, I can get carried away. Take for example my 23rd birthday. Yep, I know for most people 21 is that age where they go all crazy and wild, but for me it was 23. All I can recall from that night was the fact that I was taking shots from left to right, and even drinking champagne from the bottle. Before you know it, I was stumbling to stay on my feet and the barfing ensued.

I’ve heard horror stories about my behavior that night, so much to the point, that I was embarrassed. Some people laugh it off, but I never want to be so drunk that I can’t remember what happened the night before or if I did something so crazy or stupid that I’ll regret it. To make matters worse, I ruined one of my favorite jackets and I destroyed my cell phone when I placed it into the washing machine without knowing. I’m glad I wasn’t behind the wheel because there is no telling what could have transpired.

That’s the one thing many people who consume alcohol and get behind the wheel fail to realize: you’re not suited to drive! No matter how skilled you think you are or your belief that you can handle your alcohol. Booze has a way of adjusting our behavior, our perception and motor skills. You might think you can see clearly, but that is not the case. All it takes is one wrong turn, a blur of a light, or the need to speed that can result in a tragedy that cannot be taken back.

The number of people killed each year by drunk drivers is unbelievable, that number rises even more around popular drinking times like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and the Fourth of July. Are you seeing a trend here? Yeah, we tend to drink more around the holidays, which is hard to grapple, because it begs the question why? Is it to celebrate or our way of dealing with those family members that may get under the skin? Whatever the reason may be, alternatives must be put into place to ensure safety is a top priority.

If you plan to go out on the town, ensure there is a designated driver, one who is truly staying non-alcoholic the entire night. If you’ve had one drink, you shouldn’t be behind the wheel, call a cab or call a family member. To those family members, heed the warning, if you know you can prevent something bad; step in before it’s too late. It’s ok to drink, but the keyword we all fail to realize is to drink RESPONSIBLY!