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Celebrate the New Year responsibly

It will not be a surprise if months of pent-up frustrations prompt many people to blow off more than a little steam this New Year’s Eve. The evening is viewed by many as the one time a year they let their hair down, anyway.

There is nothing wrong with having a little fun, of course. But there is plenty wrong with putting others a risk.

You know exactly where we are going — driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. It is always a danger on New Years’ Eve and may be even more so this year.

In some states, traditional partying venues will be either shut down or forced to close early by state mandates intended to combat the COVID-19 epidemic. That may mean only that the drunks hit the roads earlier in the evening. It will have no effect on those who doing their drinking at private parties.

Bartenders and wait staff at eating and drinking establishments bear a special responsibility to keep intoxicated drivers off the road. In some states, they can be held liable in court if they fail to do so.

Party hosts have a moral burden, and it is one that can be more difficult to deal with. Telling an anonymous customer he has had one too many is one thing. Cutting off a friend or relative is tougher.

It has to be done. It is probable that this New Year’s Even, innocent people will die in accidents caused by inebriated drivers. No one ought to want that on their conscience.

If you plan leaving home to celebrate this New Year’s Eve, we beg you: Don’t drink excessively, then get behind the wheel. Know your limits and don’t go beyond them. Use a designated driver for your group. Call a cab.

Find some way not to be a menace on the highway. You may well save lives — perhaps even your own.

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