SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It’s almost time to pop the champagne and tell everyone you know “Happy New Year” as the New Year’s Eve Holiday arrives this weekend.

Before you go out partying, make sure you have a designated driver or are willing to pay for a driving service like Lyft or Uber as AAA is reminding drivers to not drink and drive as dangerous driving behavior has increased.

AAA Western and Central New York are encouraging drivers to be extra vigilant this Holiday season and to drink responsibly, especially after an alarming study.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a recent survey found an alarming increase among drivers admitting to getting behind the wheel after drinking well over the legal limit.

That figure jumped nearly 24 percent from 2020 to 2021, which is now a reversal in the steady decline in this dangerous driving behavior from 2018 through 2020.

To help illustrate what one to 12 drinks will do to a person’s capabilities, AAA describes some of the ways in which drinking over the course of an hour can do to a person.

How drinking a 12-ounce beer over the course of one hour can affect a 150-pound adult:

  • After One Drink: Inhibitions are lowered. A person may be less critical of him or herself and others, and judgment begins to be affected. Coordination may also be affected. (BAC: 0.02-0.03 percent).
  • After Two Drinks: Reaction time will be slower. A person may appear relaxed and friendly. Reaction time begins to slow. (BAC: 0.04-0.05 percent).
  • After Three Drinks: Judgment is not sound. A person will not think clearly and may do or say rude or unreasonable things, and reasoning is less reliable. Reaction time slows down. (BAC: 0.06-0.07 percent).
  • After Four Drinks: Hearing, speech, vision, and balance are adversely affected. A person may have difficulty enunciating words. As eye muscles become more relaxed, focusing and tracking becomes more difficult. Although the drinker may not be aware of it, reaction time is greatly slowed. (BAC: 0.08-0.09 percent).
  • After Five Drinks: Most behaviors are affected, and body parts do not seem to work together. Speech may be slurred. Performing any task that requires the use of hands and feet is difficult. Walking without stumbling also is difficult. (BAC: 0.10-0.11 percent).
  • After 12 Drinks: A 150-Pound person’s BAC would be about 0.30 percent at this level, a coma or deep sleep is not unusual. If there is enough alcohol in the stomach when the person passes out, the blood-alcohol level will continue to rise. If the BAC reaches 0.40 percent, they may fall into a deep coma and die.

Not only is there an increase in drivers drinking while drunk, but also while on drugs, especially with recreational marijuana in New York State.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found in another survey that the number of people admitting to getting behind the wheel within an hour of consuming cannabis is also increasing.

According to the survey, 14 percent more people from 2020 to 2021 admitted to getting behind the wheel within an hour of consuming cannabis.

“Marijuana, prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications all lead to impairment and create dangerous, life-threatening situations on our roadways when users get behind the wheel,” said Anthony B. Spada, AAA Western and Central New York President and CEO. “AAA’s message to drivers: you cannot drive safely while you are impaired.”

In order to have a safe New Year’s Eve this weekend, AAA advises you to abstain from alcohol and substances if driving or have a safe ride home if drinking.

It’s imperative that drivers take steps to stay off the road if they are impaired to enjoy the holidays while being responsible. Travelers who need a hotel to safely spend the night can find area hotel prices via the AAA Mobile App.

AAA WCNY does not participate in the Safe Ride/Tipsy Tow program that is offered in other parts of the country.