Take the keys

You know your friend has had too much to drink and shouldn't get behind the wheel. But what do you do next?

Whether you’re hosting a party or out celebrating with friends, there’s a good chance that at some point during the holiday season, you’re going to be faced with an awkward situation: One of your friends has had too much to drink, and you need to make a decision. Do you ignore it and hope everything works out OK, or do you take the keys?

Signs of impairment might include exaggerated behavior, lowered alertness, release of inhibition, poor balance or hearing, and slurred speech. The question now is, what can you do to prevent this person from getting behind the wheel of a car and possibly injuring — or killing — themselves or someone else?

  • Suggest they’ve had too much to drink, and it would be safer for someone else to drive.
  • Don’t be confrontational, and avoid embarrassing them. Be calm. Joke about it. Make light of it. Try to make it sound like you are doing them a favor.
  • Take the first step: Call a taxi, or find them a ride on Uber.
  • If it’s a good friend, spouse, or significant other, tell them that if they insist on driving, you will not go with them. Insist on calling someone else for a ride, taking a cab or walking.
  • If it is somebody you don’t know well, speak to their friends and have them make an attempt to persuade them to hand over the keys.
  • Locate their keys while they are preoccupied and take them away. Most likely, they will think they’ve lost them and will be forced to find another mode of transportation.
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