The Catholic University of America

What Can You Do To Prevent Drinking and Driving:

If you must drive after drinking, stay completely sober:1

  • Don't be fooled. The contents of the typical bottle or can of beer, glass of wine, or liquor drink (mixed drink or straight liquor) each contain virtually identical amounts of pure alcohol. When it comes to alcohol, a drink is a drink is a drink and are all the same to a breathalyzer.2
  • Know your limit. If you are not sure, experiment at home with your spouse or some other responsible individual. Explain what you are attempting to learn. Most people find that they can consume one drink per hour without any ill effects. Also, experiment with the Blood Alcohol Educator, which is very informative and useful.
  • Eat food while you drink. Food, especially high protein food such as meat, cheese and peanuts, will help slow the absorption of alcohol into your body.
  • Sip your drink. If you gulp a drink, you lose the pleasure of savoring its flavors and aromas.
  • Don't participate in "chugging" contests or other drinking games.
  • Accept a drink only when you really want one. If someone tries to force a drink on you, ask for a non-alcohol beverage instead. If that doesn't work, "lose" your drink by setting it down somewhere and leaving it.
  • Skip a drink now and then. Having a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones will help keep your blood alcohol content level down, as does spacing out your alcoholic drinks
  • A good general guideline for most people is to limit
    consumption of alcohol beverages to one drink (beer, wine or spirits) per hour.
  • Keep active; don't just sit around and drink. If you stay active you tend to drink less and to be more aware of any effects alcohol may be having on you.
  • Beware of unfamiliar drinks. Some drinks, such as zombies and other fruit drinks, can be deceiving as the alcohol content is not detectable. Therefore, it is difficult to space them properly.
  • Use alcohol carefully in connection with pharmaceuticals. Ask your physician or pharmacist about any precautions or prohibitions and follow any advice received.

Be the Designated Driver:

  • The non-drinker has a legitimate and respected role at a social function where alcohol is served. There is no stigma to abstaining because the designated driver is considered an important member of the group. Being a designated driver can also help legitimize a personal choice not to drink.
  • The designated driver approach prevents driving under any level of impairment because that person consumes no alcohol. It doesn't require a driver or passenger to determine if a person is too impaired to drive.
  • The server or host can offer a positive alternative to drunk driving by encouraging a group to designate a driver.
  • The designated driver concept is easy to understand, simple to implement, costs nothing, and is effective. 3

Tips for designated drivers:

  • Plan ahead whenever you are going to socialize with alcohol beverages
  • Decide ahead of time who will not drink any alcohol before or during the party or event
  • Consider taking turns being the designated driver (Look after your friends and family and they can look after you)
  • Larger groups should have more than one designated driver 4


1. Adapted from Hanson, D. J., and Engs, R. C. Drinking Behavior: Taking Personal Responsibility. In: Venturelli, P. J. (ed.) Drug Use in America: Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives. Boston, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett, 1994. Pp. 175-181.

2. Carrol, C. R. Drugs in Modern Society. Boston, Massachusetts: McGraw-Hill, 2000, p. 77. Because standard drinks are equivalent in alcohol content, it is misleading to refer to spirits as "hard liquor," which implies that drinking distilled spirits leads more quickly or easily to intoxication than other alcohol beverages.

3. National Commission Against Drunk Driving. A Guide to Community-Based Designated Driver Programs (

4. Alberta Transportation & Utilities. Designated Driver A Smart Choice. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: 1996 ( [6-23-00]).