With Christmas and New Year’s fast approaching, it’s important to plan ahead and stay safe if one decides to partake in drinking alcohol during that time. Red Wing Patrol Sgt. Travis Bray shared some tips on how to make responsible drinking decisions during the holidays.

What are the consequences of a DUI/DWI in Minnesota?

“That’s usually up to a judge but usually it’s loss of license, or you have to do the in-car breathalyzer,” Bray said. “It’s punishable for first DWI, which is a fourth degree DWI, up to 90 days in jail and or a $1000 fine. So they could give you 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. That’s obviously if it’s .08 or higher. They can also lose their license for 90 days.”

What do you recommend residents do if they suspect someone of driving under the influence?

“So obviously with hands free the driver can’t use a handheld device unless they pull over or have the in-car system equipped,” he said. “So if they believe somebody is impaired they should contact the local dispatch; if they are here in Red Wing they would contact our local dispatch center. Depending on the severity, using 911 is fine if it is an emergency situation because if they’re traveling and don’t know what local agency to contact 911 is fine if they believe it is an impaired driver.”

What do you recommend if people plan on drinking during the holidays, but don’t have a sober ride home?

“We say if you are going to drink, then you need to basically stay where you’re at or you need to find a sober ride home,” Bray said. “Buzzed driving is drunk driving. At the PD we do take the stance that if you’re drinking you shouldn’t be driving.”

What if you are hosting a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party?

“There could be repercussions for them hosting the party and providing alcohol. If something were to happen they could be liable for that,” Bray said. “Again, every situation would be different. Especially if they get into more underage drinking where even if you don’t know there was underage kids drinking in your house, you can be held liable and that’s a city ordinance for the social host.”

What are some safety tips to remember if you are attending a party?

“We usually recommend if people are going to be going to holiday parties that they have either a planned sober driver, so they don’t go there thinking they’re going to have a couple drinks and still be able to drive because alcohol affects everyone differently,” Bray said. “You know, somebody might have two drinks and be totally affected by the alcohol, where another person might have 10 and aren’t showing any signs of impairment. We recommend if you’re going to drink either have a responsible person to take care of you for the night, or you make plans with Lyft or a taxi.”

What are some ways people can stay safe while out with friends at bars?

“We recommend that somebody in the group, if people are going to be drinking in excess of what they normally would, that they have a sober party in the group to take care of everyone in case there are critical decisions that need to be made,” Bray said. “You have a sober party that’s clear-minded and can make those decisions, as well as watching your drinks so they’re not drinking to excess. Especially here in Minnesota that you’re dressed for the weather too.”