If you plan to ring in the new year with a few drinks and haven’t planned how you’ll get around without driving yourself, take a few minutes to do that today.

Chances the first sunrise of 2018 will find you regretting having arranged for a ride or having designated a driver for your group are nil. Chances that you’ll come to regret having gotten behind the wheel of an automobile after having had those holiday drinks are pretty high.

There’s a good chance you’ll run afoul of the law, for one thing. As with most holidays, law enforcement officers will be out in force tonight trying to apprehend people suspected of driving drunk.

An arrest and conviction for driving while intoxicated can cost the accused $17,000 or more in attorney fees, court costs, fines and the like, according to the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office. That’s a whole lot of cab fares.

You’ll also miss a lot of work and just life in general while your case makes its way through the system. When it’s all done, that investment of time and money will have bought you something worse than nothing, the official designation of drunken driver.

And just getting arrested for it is about the best thing that can happen when driving drunk goes wrong. A worse scenario is that you’ll kill or maim someone or yourself or both.

New Year’s Eve night isn’t the most dangerous time to drive. Evenings in August are the most dangerous times, and the morning and evening rush hours are more dangerous than New Year’s Eve, according to the National Highway Safety Administration.

But that’s part of the point.

Driving these days is very dangerous. People have to drive long distances to get from home to work and back; traffic is heavy; everybody’s in a hurry trying to squeeze some life into whatever hours are left after the commute; and there are more jerks on the road than there used to be, or so it seems anyway.

None of us needs drunks making that situation worse than it already is, and nobody wants to be “that guy” — the person who kills or badly injures someone during a night meant for celebrating the arrival of a bright future.

So make a plan for keeping yourself and the rest of us safe while you celebrate the new year.

• Michael A. Smith

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206; michael.smith@galvnews.com

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