With the New Year holiday weekend coming up, Utah law enforcement agencies are bracing for the usual rise in drunken driving arrests. Too many people still haven't learned the basic lessons about the dangers of consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a car.

Either that or they don't think they will get caught or get hurt or kill someone. Or more accurately, they don't think, period.Everyone - drinkers and non-drinkers alike - can have a safer holiday season by adhering to a few basic rules:

- If going to a party where drinking takes place, don't plan on driving. Appoint a non-drinking designated driver, use a taxi, or stay overnight.

- Don't ride with someone who has been drinking and don't let a drunken friend drive, even if you have to take away the car keys. That would be a real act of friendship.

- Remember that there is no way to sober up quickly. Cold showers, black coffee or walking won't do it. Only time works - time for the body to absorb and break down the alcohol. There aren't any shortcuts.

- Party-givers should be aware that a host may be held legally liable for injuries and damage caused by an intoxicated guest after their guests leave a party where they have consumed alcohol.

- Hosts should serve food to slow down the rate of alcohol absorption; make soft drinks, juices and water available; close the bar at least an hour before the party ends; remind people about over-drinking; make taxi service or other transportation available.

- Have a party without alcohol. After all, it's possible to have a wonderful time with food, conversation, socializing and music - without drinking.

Celebrating the New Year holiday is a time of hope and new beginnings. Don't turn it into a tragedy or an expensive and bitter experience because of lack of judgment involving drinking and driving.