How to Prevent Drunk Driving

Updated on November 08, 2011
K.S. asks from Littleton, CO
25 answers

Hi mamas, I'm hoping some of you have done something or have ideas. It has always bugged me when we have people over or we're at other places with friends and I see so many of them drinking alot, and then knowing they drive home. When we're with couples, and both of them are drinking, it makes me crazy because I can't believe that they haven't made a plan to get home safely. So the other night my husband had some guys over, and when talking to my daughter (11) later, she said asked how they could all drive home when they had been drinking. That did it, I can't answer her with "it's their problem" or "it's too bad and they're not being smart" etc. I feel like I need to be a good example for her to show social responsibility.

So, we will be having a Christmas party in December, and I want to feel good about doing the right thing. Do any of you have ideas to let guests know we want them to have designated drivers? We can't stop people from drinking, we can't steal keys. But I want to feel like we've done a good job on our end. I am already planning to only serve beer and wine, I know you can still drink too much of those, but with our crowd hard liquor seems to go way too quickly. What else can I do? And just to add, I don't really drink at all, so I wouldn't mind a 'dry' party, but hubby doesn't want that. He's on board to make a statement, but wants alcohol at the party.


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answers from Norfolk on

You could buy a breathalyzer and not give keys back unless they pass it.
If they don't pass it, call them a cab.
Personally, I can't stand socializing with people who can't seem to have a good time without getting stinking plowed every single time.
It might be time to find some different friends who enjoy being sober rather than hanging out with alcoholic wannabes.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

I can send you the LOOONG lists of expenses that my husband spent in the last year since his DUI.

We could have flown to f-ing Disney World for a week and stayed at the most expensive hotel and STILL have extra money left over. DUI's are NO JOKE that's assuming you don't HIT anyone else or cause property damage.

He lucked out on that but the last year has been painful emotionally and fiancially. I wish that on NOBODY!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Offer for people to stay the night if they wish. Also if you're doing an e-vite, mention that you will be calling cabs for folks who get too merry, so they can cab it over there if they want to.

Plan to have lots of food, and also munchies to put out at the end of the night. After dinner, let the open bottles of wine run dry and don't open any more. Offer a warm non-alcoholic drink (hot cider, hot chocolate with a peppermint stick, whatever) at the end of the night instead of a nightcap.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

Here's what I have learned from years of throwing parties. Chose a (light) fun signature drink. Hand them out towards the beginning of the party. Make sure there are lots of yummy appetizers. It's carb and fat loaded ones that absorb alcohol. Don't let the party run unreasonably late. Cue your guests when you want them to start leaving by packing up food or saying you need to get the kids to bed etc.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

You take everyone's keys and coats when they come to your door and everyone puts their keys in a jar. At the end of the night, the sober driver of the couple or the cab driver takes the drinkers home. You could have been held legally responsible if people drinking at your home left and killed someone. On the party invites, just tell them that designated drivers will be enforced or they need to make arrangements to call a cab.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Couple of ideas...
1. You can take keys. I know that DH and I both have done it. We have an air mattress and a guest room, both of which have been occupied post-party on more than one occassion.
2. On the invite, put something like... "For those who would prefer a secure ride home, the following cabs are available from our home at a reasonable rate." Then provide the names and numbers. You could go one step further and contact the companies and see if you can arrange some kind of deal with them
3. Don't let your husband get so caught-up in the party that he forgets to check on friends.

If your friends enjoy a cocktail and you have a dry party, it may just be your last event!

Do what you can to prevent and don't feel badly about suggesting that someone leave their car and come back tomorrow. It happens and they will (sheepishly) thank you later.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Good luck with this. Its a sore subject with me because I'm an insurance agency and see the outcome firsthand of drinking and driving. Personally, hubby and I don't drink and we don't serve alcohol when we have people over. But generally, that has been a PRIORITY for me, I have never dated or married anyone that drinks and most of our friends don't either. That is a CHOICE that I've made. I don't think its a good example to our kids and you have a VERY smart 11 yo. I hope you get some good suggestions!!! Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

You can purchase a breathelizer and use it at your party. Let everyone know in advance that you are going to do this and that you are doing it for everyone's safety. You can ask that all guests drop their car keys into a bowl/bag/hat upon arrival and will get it back after blowing into the machine. It is a powerful tool, btw, because people can see how much over the legal limit they are (if they are) and it really sinks in if they were going to get behind the wheel in that state. I'm not sure how much one of those cost, may be a couple hundred, but if you can swing it, that's one way to go. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Check the laws in your state. You can actually be held liable if someone drinks too much in your home, and goes out and kills someone. So study up on what to do to help mitigate your risk.

There is as much alcohol in a jigger of hard liquor as there is in a glass of wine or a glass of beer. So taking away hard liquor doesn't fix your problem.

Good luck with the hubby,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

We've always posted a list of cab companies and numbers at the door and in the kitchen or bar area at our parties. Many people in our crowd will also say to others -"You're not driving, are you?" We encourage people to crash at our house if they don't want to take a cab or ride with someone else and usually at least one or two people, if not more, do that. I do feel that beyond that, they need to take responsibility for themselves. We also put a message in our invites or evites stating that we want everyone to be safe and happy the next day, so to prepare to take a cab or crash if they're going to drink.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Take everyone's car keys as they arrive so they have to come to you to get them back to leave. Anyone who is drunk, either has a cab called for them or someone else drives them home. And congrats to your daughter for bringing this to your attention. It amazes me how many people who don't consider themselves a criminal will go to holiday parties and drive home! And then they look at disgust at the person who did the same thing and got caught or heaven forbid killed someone! This is definitely the season for drunk driving and we mommas need to do whatever we can to keep our little ones safe. And if you think it's not something you need to worry about because you don't drink or you don't take your kids out at night, just remember the people who have been killed in broad daylight because some drunk idiot ran up on the sidewalk! Let's all make a vow not to drink and drive EVER and to keep an eye on our friends who may be drinking and not allow them to drive, no matter what they say!!!!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

Since i'm a non drinking I find it disgusting (many other words I would like to use) that others drink & drive & put their lives & others at their own risk.More people die in car crashes from drunk driving to not paying attention than anything & that is sad.It is your problem when you are the provider & it is your party your hosting.I would limit what is bought & when it runs dry thats it no going back to the store for more.Hubby should make a statment & expect for guests to sleep at his house if they are way to trashed to drive home let alone are clumsy.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Have a nice Christmas brunch with lots of good food,and as for beverages, serve only coffee, orange juce and a limited amount of champagne. Make it a family affair where kids are welcome.

I would be interested to know what "statement" you and your husband plan to make to your guests?

I don't think you can tell adults what to do, but you CAN control what and how much is served in your home.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would not have the party with children in the house.
So send them to Grandmas.
Then have a key jar as suggested or your own desiganted driver.
Also stop serving alcohol an hour before the party ends. Serve hot spiced apple cider and coffee. It's just as good.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I think you absolutely can take keys. If one of your friends gets into an accident and hurts someone else, YOU can be held at least partially liable,

You need to somehow communicate with your friends of the new not sober, no driving policy for parties at your house. Let them know that you received information from your attorney, or home insurance agent, or whoever that you can be held liable if something happens and you just cannot take that risk.

If they refuse to behave like responsible adults, then you need to. Take keys, have a cab company on call, and stick to your guns!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We take the keys from the guests....simple as that. We do not want to be held legally responsible for them getting in to an accident and hurting someone.

I would not serve hard liquor. Beer and wine is fine. If they don't like it? I don't need them as a friend.

Tell your friends UP FRONT - we DO NOT CONDONE drinking and driving... period. We all want to have fun, but we don't want to worry. If you plan on drinking, plan on spending the night or taking a cab home.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Well, if he wants to drink, he needs to be responsible. You can do a key box (friend does this on NYE) when people arrive. If they are too drunk to find their keys, they aren't driving. I agree that if hard liquor can't be consumed in moderation with them, then don't serve it. You can also buy a whole lot less. There's a difference between a few bottles of wine between 20 people and a few cases of wine.

Be prepared to offer crash space, call a taxi, make sure that mutual, sober, friends take other friends home. I would make it clear that drinking and driving won't be tolerated at your party.

Oh, and I have taken keys. Took them right out of a friend's hand one night and said there was no way he was getting behind a wheel and he could hate me forever if he wanted. If he couldn't be enough of a grown up to watch his own drinking, he didn't deserve his keys. I'd rather be a pain in the butt than hear someone left a party and wrapped himself around a tree or another car. Just the other week we asked a friend, "How much did you drink? Can you drive?" (it was a wedding and we'd had drinks over a long period of time, with food). Friend said, "Maybe" and we all got on his case. I told him, "That's not a maybe question! It's yes or no. If you have to think about it someone else will drive you home. We have our van."

If you serve alcohol, IMO, you must be prepared to step up. Not just for the friend's sake. Your kid is watching.

SO...make the expectation known (we will have a key box and will take keys if you are not sober enough to drive) and let them decide to come or not based on the new expectations.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I love the idea of offering a "secure ride" statement with a list of cab companies.
You could also consider giving out tickets, like at a work function, wher folks can only have two drinks OR the flip side, give out wristbands and mark on it each time someone has a drink more as a reminder to themselves how many drinks they have had and anyone with more than X number of marks will be provided a safe ride home.
Lastly, you could consider ordering a party bus that picks people up and drops them off at home for a small fee paid by those who want to take advantage of the service (honestly, I love this - have and would pay for it as a guest!)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

As the host you can let guests know that if they plan to drink, they have to give you their keys. As the hosts, you should probably plan to remain sober so that you can determine who is sober. If someone is buzzed, remember that buzzed is drunk. That means they can't drive. And people who are buzzed or who you've seen drink within the hour (or even two hours) will not be given their keys back. Keep an open invitation for people to sleep over until the next morning by choice.

You can also have alcohol at the party, but not have as much as you usually do. Cut the amount by half and agree with your husband ahead of time not to run out for a beer run, and to discourage guests to run out for more beer. If guests offer to bring alcohol, thank them for their generosity but tell them you have it covered and won't be needing it, but if they would like to bring something have a food item or dessert item on a list ready to suggest for them. "Oh, Bill, how nice of you to offer to bring your dad's homemade vodka this year. You know, I think we're set on adult drinks but if you could pick up a veggie platter that would be even more appreciated!"

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I've never had this problem at our parties. That almost sounds lame. But....

How old is this group of people who still thinks it's OK to drink and drive?

How about calling the police department to park a squad car at the end of your street when the party is over? Just kidding....

My vote is that you make a statement in your invitation about couples deciding before hand who their designated driver will be, or recommend carpooling between couples.

And then STOP serving alcohol a good hour or 2 before the party is over.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Pick them up and drive them home.
Be the cab yourself.
I think that's a great idea!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

You should collect all keys as they come through the door. Put them in a locked box and make sure that they only come out for designated drivers. In this day and age, I'd buy one of those breathalizers if I was responsible at a party. You ARE legally responsible for the people you serve alcohol to. I have seen the breathalizers in Walgreens.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I was at a party last year where the host was pouring stiff drinks, we were playing board games and card games that basically turned into drinking games. Then the host abruptly atood up and said, well, I've got to get to bed. Thanks for coming and walked everyone to the door. I was floored! I kept thinking they should've stopped serving alcohol an hour earlier, and started serving desserts and coffee. That woul;d've been the smart thing to do. Thank God noone was hurt, but that's what I do for all my partys. I put the booze up and feed people and let them drink sit and sober up a while beofre turning them out to the wolves.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

We don't serve alcohol at our parties for this very reason. This forces people to go totally dry against their will or leaves them the only option of bringing their own, and usually they're not keen on sharing. Wait til the last minute to inform people that you are not serving alcohol, so they don't have time to load up coolers to the brim before coming over, then they'll have to bring whatever they have on hand or can find at the last minute..which hopefully won't be much.

Or if you can't trust your friends won't get carried away with the BYOB option, you could just limit alcohol to only wine with dinner...nothing else before or after. Only purchase enough bottles so people can have 1-2 glasses each. Or instead of dinner wine, save the "drink" of the night for later with a dessert spread.

Choose one of the following or give people an option of 1 or 2 things such as: a nice punch with a slight "punch" to it (like champagne ) in a fancy fountain, a wassail bowl, or egg nog with a bit of rum. Just be sure when preparing any of these drinks to only make enough for each guest to have 1 or 2 cups for after dinner.

Allowing a full open bar and expecting people to limit consumption just because you say something won't work. People think holidays mean feelin' good, and don't care if they're buzzed when driving home. Most people don't realize how little alcohol it takes to be legally buzzed if they get pulled over.

If you want to be radical, you can buy a personal sized breathalizer and make people use it. LOL! If they fail or fall in a certain range you can force them to spend the night. :O If they flip out, you can argue that you'll be ultimately responsible and could face arrest if they get in an accident or pulled over after leaving your house buzzed...that is, if you live in a state where the law is such.

One last option could be to assign certain people to be the designated driver for groups of others. This will probably go over like a lead balloon if you do the choosing. But maybe if you e-mail everyone ahead of time and ask certain people to come forward and sacrifice themselves, you might have your solution.

Some cities have sober cabs. Find out if you have this service during the holidays in your area and keep the number on hand and offer it to your tipsy guests

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

For an extra $100 you can provide a limo service to all of your guests. You can offer to help them retrieve their cars the next day. Another way to handle it is just speak with each of them about the influence on your children. I am sure if you tell them the story of your daughter and how she recognized the issue they will understand.

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