MANY MAY choose to tempt fate anyway, but everyone for miles around should be advised that for the rest of this month there will be police all over the place, poised to spot-check and arrest any motorist who has had one too many. Being arrested like this can put quite a damper on a person's holiday fun, but police won't be winking at pie-eyed partygoers who think they're capable of navigating. Anybody who believes in life after December should welcome this regional crackdown -- and avoid taking any chances. As it happens, a number of creative people and organizations are coming up with sensible ways to mix merriment and survival this season:
A 50-member coalition of area police, government, school, civic and business groups -- organized as the Washington Regional Alcohol Program -- is focusing on discouraging alcohol abuse at office parties. WRAP is sending an office-party guide to 1,500 businesses that are members of the Greater Washington Board of Trade; the guide includes a sample memo on drinking that can be distributed to employees, recipes for nonalcoholic drinks, information on special transportation programs and posters for office walls. Another project -- "Operation Safe Holiday," created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the National Council on Alcoholism -- also seeks to reduce the seasonal emphasis on alcoholic beverages among businesses.
Various organizations are arranging free rides for drinkers who have no sober driver to get them home. One, "SoberRide," reachable by dialing 578-HOME, is offering free cab rides. It is sponsored by area cab companies and a beer company.
Partygoers everywhere are being encouraged to arrange for designated drivers -- nondrinkers to do the driving -- and to reaffirm their friendships by taking car keys from anyone not in shape to motor away.
Sponsors of these programs know that it is unrealistic to expect that people won't be drinking over the holidays or even into the years ahead. But they also know that drunk driving continues to be the most frequently committed violent crime in America -- and that authorities are more determined than ever to put a stop to it.