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Tue December 27, 2011

DUPAGE COUNTY-As DuPage County residents prepare for celebrations to welcome the New Year, the DuPage County Health Department reminds people to avoid drinking and driving.

The Health Department shares the following tips on how to be safe at holiday parties where alcohol is served:

  • Eat before you begin drinking. A full stomach helps slow the rate of absorption.
  • Drink slowly to give your body time to handle the alcohol. Space your drinks.
  • Know what you are drinking. Do not accept a drink if you do not know what is in it. Also, do not leave your drink unattended.
  • Before your first drink, set a reasonable limit on the number of drinks you will have and then stick to it.
  • If you are the host or hostess, serve food and stop serving alcohol a few hours before you expect the party to end. Offer non-alcoholic drinks for non-drinkers and designated drivers. Do not let a guest who has been drinking heavily drive home. Call a taxicab, have a sober friend drive or urge the guest to spend the night.

Alcohol is a drug that depresses the central nervous system and slows the activity of the brain and spinal cord. Therefore, one drink can slow a driver's reflexes and make the car a dangerous weapon. From the first drink, alcohol begins to affect coordination and judgment. Vision and depth perception become distorted, emotions and moods become unpredictable, and reaction time slows.

Alcohol's effect on an individual is determined primarily by two factors: the amount of alcohol consumed and the rate at which it is absorbed. Other contributing factors include body weight, alcohol tolerance, mood, environment and the amount of food consumed.

Shortly after a person starts to drink, the body begins to rid itself of the alcohol. The process is slow, but eventually all the alcohol will be filtered out, mainly by the liver, which is responsible for removing about 90 percent of it. The elimination rate is equal to about one drink per hour. There is nothing - not coffee, showers or food - that can speed up the process. It does not matter if the person is asleep or awake.

For more information on the DuPage County Health Department, follow us on Twitter @DuPageHD or become a fan on Facebook.

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