Nobody wants to face a DUI charge, or worse, hurt someone by getting behind the wheel when you’ve had one too many. Here are a few tips for staying sober while out on the town.
- Make a Backup Plan. It sounds simple enough, but if you need to stay sober for whatever reason and plan on having a drink, prepare for what needs to happen if your “one or two” turns into “three or four.” Whether it’s paying for the Uber at the end of the night or leaving your car at a friend’s house, commit to your own safety and that of other drivers.
- If you can’t commit to drinking zero alcoholic beverages, you should know the standard pours for each type of alcohol. “One drink” is not measured the same for liquor as it is for beer. StandardDrinks.com compares three different drinks that contain the same amount of alcohol: 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of liquor, and 5 ounces of wine. Beer can be tricky due to its Alcohol By Volume content. For example, one 12 ounce IPA (which traditionally carries a higher ABV%) contains more alcohol than a traditional light ale. When in doubt, ask the bartender or server and read the label.
- Don’t judge a drink by its cover, either in looks or taste. Fruity cocktails mask the taste of liquor to the point that it can be nearly undetectable. On a similar note, it’s important you don’t “eyeball” your drinks to determine their alcohol content. Stick to a measured pour as outlined above and ask for clarification on ingredients if you’re ordering a mixed drink from a restaurant menu. Margaritas, for example, use tequila as the base but commonly include a second type of alcoholic mixer like a liqueur.
- Eat a meal before going out or have an appetizer with your drink. High protein foods like meat, cheese, and nuts will slow alcohol absorption. You’re also more likely to drink at a slower rate when your hands are occupied and your stomach is full. Ever tried drinking beer on a full stomach? The discomfort is enough to dissuade even the biggest beer lover of your group.
- Alternate drinks with water and give it time. As a rule, you should drink no more than one beverage per hour. While the effects of alcohol vary from person to person, time is on your side when it comes to staying sober among a crowd of drinkers. If you’re worried that you might be judged for ordering water while everyone else is drinking freely and enjoying themselves, ask the bartender or server in private to serve you non-alcoholic beverages.
- Get moving to gauge your level of intoxication. Often, the mere act of sitting on a barstool can mask the personal effects of alcohol. Don’t wait until it’s too late (like when you’re behind the wheel of a car) to determine you’ve gotten drunk. Take a walk between drinks—to the restroom or outside to check your phone—to assess how you feel physically and mentally.
In a perfect world, no one would operate a vehicle after drinking too much alcohol. But when the occasion calls for an alcoholic beverage, it is entirely possible to have a drink, wait out the effects, and drive home safely. The important thing to remember is that the gray area can still land you in handcuffs. When in doubt, use a ride sharing service and enjoy the night with no strings attached.