So Christmas is upon us, which means family gatherings - and alcohol. All too often people are having a good time and lose track of just how much they've had to drink. Or maybe there's that relative you just can't stand so you're drinking as an escape. All too often the end result is an arrest for driving while intoxicated - which puts a real damper on your holiday. No matter who cooks your Christmas dinner I'm pretty sure it's going to be better than what you get in jail. And you'll really appreciate that annoying relative after you spend some time with your new best friends in the county jail.

So how can you avoid the nightmare of a DWI arrest - and still have a good time? Here are a few tips.


Okay - I realize this is a little obvious. But think about this. The only time many people see their family is during the holidays. Maybe that's a good thing, but maybe you think it's worth more than it really is. In the end, it is your family who will be there for you - and be the ones coming to your funeral. So why not try to get along; an added bonus is it will make your mom and grandparents happy. And if you really don't like one of your relatives, do you really think drinking is going to fix that - you're probably just going to say something you wish you wouldn't.


Whether you are intoxicated or not, no one likes to be pulled over by the police. There are a few things you can do to avoid getting stopped, which you can find here.


Another obvious one I know. But if you really can't stand your family and need a few drinks, go out in the backyard, and don't go down to the local bar - where everyone is going to be griping about their families and how miserable their life is. If that's not reason enough, remember that the police are out looking for you. Holiday periods always involve an increase in the number of officers on the streets - and they are looking for drunk drivers. That means your chances of getting pulled over go way up.


This is probably a little more reasonable, since a lot of people have a few glasses of wine during dinner, or maybe a few drinks before dinner. Or maybe a few beers after dinner. Since it's not illegal to Drink and Drive - despite what all the TV ads say - you need to know where you are over the legal limit, which is .08 in Texas. You can make a rough calculation of your blood alcohol content by knowing a few things. Generally, you process and eliminate the equivalent of one drink every hour; so if you only have one drink every hour you are going to be in pretty good shape - unless you're doing that over 10 or 12 hours and then you probably have other issues. There are a number of calculators out there which account for various factors, including weight and sex. Here's one from the National College of Drunk Driving Defense (which I'm a member of by the way), that will give you an estimate. Remember it's just an estimate - If you are close to the limit I certainly wouldn't risk it; especially since the testing devices used are not entirely accurate.

My final advice is ENJOY YOURSELF. You only live once, and the holidays only come around once. Take it from someone who has already lost their mother and father, mother-in-law and father-in-law and wife - you need to make the most of every opportunity you have because someday all you will have is memories. Who wouldn't rather have happy memories to look back on, than the memory of getting pulled over and spending the night in jail?


Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 35 years.