Happy holidays, fellow Utahns. And please drive safely!

We couple those salutations because some people still have the idea that the way to be a good host at this time of year is to keep urging more drinks on one's friends.But it's not an idea shared by the courts, which have been holding bartenders who let their patrons drink too much responsible for the highway accidents that ensued.

Utahns should pay close attention in view of the case the past year involving a Salt Lake attorney found guilty of injuring four people while driving under the influence of alcohol. The attorney was accused of causing injury to a couple and their two children when his car collided with the family's van.

A civil suit was subsequently filed against the hosts of the party that the attorney had attended before getting in his car in an intoxicated state to drive. The suit claimed that the hosts were partly responsible for the family's injuries because they permitted the intoxicated man to drive home. The civil action was based on the newly-enacted Utah Dram Shop Act which holds liquor providers responsible for injuries resulting from drunken-driving accidents. The civil case was recently settled outside of court.

Under the circumstances, the American Automobile Association is doing party givers a favor by passing along some sensible advice.

The AAA is distributing a 20-page booklet that features recipes for 36 simple-to-make, non-alcoholic drinks and punches as well as high-protein food recipes. High protein foods can help slow down alcohol absorption for guests who drink.

AAA's guide also suggests that hosts follow the ABC's of successful party giving:

A - Alcohol Awareness. Monitor the number of drinks consumed by guests and provide plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives.

B - Buffet. Always serve food with alcoholic beverages. As the hour becomes late, put away the alcohol and continue to offer a good supply of food.

C - Car Pool. Arrange transportation for individuals who are not in shape to safely drive themselves home.

Hosts should not be persuaded by alcohol-affected guests who claim they can drive home safely. After only one drink, a motorist's judgment can be impaired. After four drinks, a driver is 10 times more likely as a non-drinker to have an accident.

The lesson is simply that it's more important to be a good friend than it is to be a good host - and good friends don't keep pushing drinks on their friends in the name of holiday cheer. And they certainly don't let their friends drink and then drive.