The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 31, 2013

Sobering thoughts

The Register-Herald

— New Year’s Eve is traditionally known for its revelry.

Parties at which alcohol flows freely are the norm. Other substances that alter the imbiber’s reality abound, as well.

As you prepare to ring in 2014 tonight, we hope you will take some time to consider the consequences of partying too hard.

A story in Monday’s Register-Herald laid out how costly, monetarily, it can be to be cited for even first offense driving under the influence. It can mean up to six months in jail, fines up to $1,000 and license suspended for up to six months.

For some who depend on being able to drive for their work, their job may be taken away.

And for each subsequent arrest, the penalties increase.

But the worst-case scenario is the death or injuries that can result when an impaired person gets behind the wheel.

That is a cost that never goes away — not for the driver nor for the families of all involved.

For most, the burden of knowing lives were taken or forever changed because of their actions never goes away.

The best advice we can give is to tell you not to get behind the wheel if you have been drinking — period.

We aren’t telling you not to have a good time; we aren’t telling you not to party.

What we are saying is to have a plan.

Have one person in your group abstain from alcohol for the evening and be your designated driver.

Have your host or the bartender take charge of your keys and tell them to call a cab for you when you are ready to go home. You can pick up your car the next day.

West Virginia State Police Trooper Michael Efird said that while DUI continues to be a problem, statistically, it is getting better; injuries and deaths are down somewhat.

He attributes the decrease to enhanced patrols and enforcement of DUI laws. Beckley Police will conduct one such sobriety checkpoint this evening from 5 to 11 p.m. on Pinewood Drive, with an alternate site of U.S. 19.

While checkpoints are helping, we will reiterate that the best way to prevent accidents and injuries is not to drink and drive. Not on New Year’s Eve. Not ever.

As 2013 fades and 2014 dawns, we at Beckley Newspapers wish for you a happy and prosperous new year.