Tis the season to be merry, happy, joyful and thankful for everything you’ve got. It’s also the time of the year that you’ll likely attend or host a fair share of holiday parties. With two weeks to go until Christmas, and twenty days until the new year, I’ve already attended my work holiday party and another private Christmas party hosted by friends. Between now and the end of the year, I’ll entertain friends at home for my birthday, attend my dad’s birthday bash, join the soccer teammates in our annual holiday get together, and of course ring in the new year. There will be ample amount of cheer, laughs, and of course booze. But in today’s post, I wanted to talk about the other side of attending and hosting holiday parties. I call this the responsible side.
This is the season where the merry and hopelessly drunk jump in their cars and drive off into the night, sometimes with tragic endings for themselves or innocent third parties. The holiday season is also a busy time on the roads with traffic and the beefed up presence of the police to make the roads safer. Yet, every year there are brave souls who get into their cars and bravely take on the road. Sheer stupidity to say the least, and the numbers don’t lie:
- In 2009, it was estimated that 2,575 individuals were killed in motor vehicle crashes in Canada.
- MADD Canada estimates that at a minimum 1,074 of these fatalities were impairment-related.
- Also in 2009, it was estimated that about 303,850 individuals were injured in motor vehicle crashes.
- MADD Canada estimates that approximately 63,338 of the 303,850 individuals were injured in impairment-related crashes. That equates to roughly 174 per day.
- In 2011, a total of 2,232 officers carried out 556 spot checks across Toronto. Roughly 6,798 hours were dedicated to this.
- 2,552 drivers were checked, 26 were charges for impaired driving, 100 were charged for being over the limit and 270 were issued warn-range suspension.
- One out of 20 drivers tested at a spot-check results in the driver being arrested for criminal drinking and driving. That same figure in 2010 was one out of 33.
Being a Responsible Party Host
Serve Food – Anytime I’ve hosted an event, during the holidays or not, I’ve accompanied food with the drinks. There’s also an ample amount of snacks readily available. The choice of food you serve is totally up to you, but serving foods that are rich in proteins is generally a good idea since they hasten the absorption of alcohol. Don’t forget the late night snacks too.
Offer Non-Alcoholic Drinks – Alternative to alcohol, serve an assortment of mocktails, juices, and eggnog (without the rum).
Control YOUR Drinking – As a party host, you need to be in tune of what’s happening at your party at any given time. Keeping an eye on your guests is much easier when you’re sober.
Control Intake – Don’t allow guests to pour their own drinks at your party. Most people drink more when they serve themselves. Mix the drinks yourself and avoid doubles.
Plan Ahead – Arrange designated drivers beforehand and have cash on hand for those who didn’t foresee the need for taxis.
Know the Limit – Stop serving alcohol in due time before your party ends. It’s up to you to determine that time, but when you do – bring out more food and alcohol-free drinks.
Intervene if Necessary – Be sure you have reliable people to back you up in case you need to actually take someone’s keys away from him or her.
Your Legal Obligation
For those who think that only businesses and public institutions are on the hook for being responsible for hosting – think again. Private holiday parties certainty don’t have immunity from prosecution because it’s a “private” event. Even though the law is full not there, the day will soon come when the person hosting the party becomes personally liable if somebody leaves their home drunk and causes an accident.
One thing most people forget is that the law is a living and evolving thing. It’s always changing, and soon enough there will be enough real life examples of irresponsible party hosting where it involved drinking and driving that the law will have to be changed.
If you’re planning to host a holiday party at your home, remember that you’re responsible for the safety of all your party attendees. If the person who attended your party gets into an accident, and for some reason it ends up in court – you as the party host will be brought to the forefront and could face legal consequences. Anytime the legal system is involved, it can be expensive, life changing and likely will eat up all your life savings. Aside from the financial cost, the personal cost is even more knowing that you contributed to something even though it wasn’t your fault directly.
According to statistics, nearly 25% of all road fatalities in Canada occur due to drinking and driving. Anytime an accident occurs due to drinking and driving, it is totally avoidable, yet it occurred because somebody made a senseless decision to drive under the influence. In order to combat drinking offenses in Canada, the authorities presently have ten seconds or less to asses how sober the driver is during a RIDE stop check or random stop. This causes reasonable suspicion, and it’s not full-proof, because let’s face it, no two people drink the same.
So there’s been a challenge set out to the the Federal Government to introduce on-the-spot-checks. This would involve a person being given an breathalyzer test, and avoid the reasonable suspicion of asking whether one has been drinking or not. Thus far, Canadian government hasn’t had much interest to introduce on-the-sport-checks through a law change by introducing a random testing legislation. They believe this would challenge the citizen’s personal freedom to go on about their business without the interference of the law and in turn challenge the person’s Charter of Rights.
Readers, what are your thoughts on responsible holiday party hosting? How would you feel if the government introduced on-the-spot-checks by changing the law?