New Year’s Eve drinkers need to use common sense or just don’t drive


December 31st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Iowans who will be whooping it up for New Year’s Eve tonight need to remember that not all alcoholic drinks are created equal. Alcohol counselor John Smith says it isn’t necessarily a good rule of thumb to assume you’re okay to drive if you’ve only had one drink an hour, at least if you want to avoid being nailed for driving drunk. “Certainly, there are things like a Long Island iced tea that might have five shots of different alcohol in them,” Smith says. “You could easily have a drink that has five to seven standard drinks in one drink.” He teaches classes to those convicted of drunk driving and he’s advising people on ways to avoid getting tipsy, like eating a good meal and pacing your drinking. Smith says Iowans should make it a point to watch the alcohol content of their drinks.

Smith says, “A typical, standard drink is a 12-ounce American beer at about 5% alcohol and that’s about the same amount as about an ounce and a half of 80-proof liquor, or about the same as 5-ounces of table wine at 12-percent.” Smith says any one of those drinks would put a man weighing 180-pounds about one-fourth of the way to exceeding the legal limit for driving. On the other hand, he says just one Long Island iced tea could result in a drunk driving charge. Smith says it’s important to keep an eye on just how much booze actually goes into your drink.

He says if you order a double or if a friend tries to make you a special drink with extra booze, it could hit you much harder than just a single, standard drink. The only sure way is to avoid getting charged with drunk driving after a night of drinking, Smith says, is to simply not get behind the wheel.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)