If there is anything we've learned from numerous local and regional news headlines over the past few years, it's that good people make serious mistakes in judgment when they are intoxicated -- mistakes that can carry lifelong consequences.
The most recent example that comes to mind is Phoenix lawyer Mark Torre who had a successful law practice, a young family and a bright future.
He was driving under the influence when he struck and killed 18-year-old Jessica Woodin, an incoming Arizona State University freshman.
Torre then fled the scene in an attempt to avoid being caught. Evidence suggests that another attorney from Torre's firm was in the car when it ended the young girl's life. These men knew the law, but made the decision to allow alcohol to impair their judgment while driving a vehicle.
Torre is now serving a seven-year sentence in prison for vehicular homicide.
Excessive alcohol can turn fathers against children, husbands against wives and friends against friends. It can steal hopes and dreams from our youth and destroy the good reputations and accomplishments of adulthood. And when mixed with driving a car, it all adds up to lives cut short, broken homes, regret, embarrassment, sadness and despair.
As we ring in the New Year, let's do more than just hope for a safe holiday.
Bring up the subject of responsible drinking with your family and friends. Set some ground rules about transportation, type of drinking, limits and locations.
For some, addressing these concerns with loved ones will mean taking risks. But do it knowing there are greater risks if you don't.
Risk seeming overly concerned or protective. Risk offending. Risk being called judgmental. Risk being criticized. Risk being hurt by their response.
During the celebrations you may even need to take bolder risks. Risk taking away car keys. Risk making a friend or loved one angry by your persistence.
If in the end your efforts fail, then risk being hated or ridiculed because you called the police. You will never know what disaster or tragedy this last risk averted. You'll just know you risked enough to care.