Drinking in 2017: Tips to stay safe on New Year’s Eve

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- If you choose to drink on New Year's Eve, there is no reason for your first beverage of 2017 to be your last.

New Year's Eve tends to be one of the biggest party nights of the year, which means bars along Harrisburg's Second Street "Restaurant Row" will be packed with hundreds of people throughout the night.

Business goes up, but so does the responsibility to keep patrons safe, says Aroogas Downtown General Manager Adam Szar.

"We take every measure, as far as calling a cab or making sure people get into their Uber safe," he says.

At Arooga's, all staff members are RAM certified by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. RAM stands for responsible alcohol management. It's a program offered by the PLCB which teaches bar and restaurant staff, including security, to look out for people who appear too drunk.

If someone has had too much to drink, they're not allowed inside the bar. If they are visibly intoxicated in the bar, Szar says his staff will help someone get home.

"If I was out, I'd want someone to take care of me," he says.

However, you shouldn't wait until a bartender cuts you off to determine how you're getting home, according to PennDOT spokesperson Fritzi Schreffler. That is a decision you need to make before you leave home.

"Make sure you pick your designated driver before you go out," Schreffler says. "As long as you set it up ahead of time, you can drink as much as you want and you know you'll get home safely."

Ride-sharing app Uber is a popular option for designated drivers, but the company tends to raise fares on high-density travel nights like holidays. Schreffler and PennDOT suggest downloading the app SaferRide, which has been approved by the National Highway Transportation Safety Board. SaferRide takes your location, and lists the closest taxi companies nearby.

If a friend is to drive you home, Schreffler says to make sure that person isn't the one who's had the least amount to drink, it's the person who has had nothing to drink.

"Buy that person all the sodas and whatever they want, just no alcohol."

Also, if you choose to drink, do not drink on an empty stomach.

Most importantly, Schreffler says, if you see something, say something.

"You can be that one friend who makes sure your friend doesn't get behind a wheel or says I think you've had enough," she says. "There are a lot of things, as friends, if you're really a friend, you're going to step in and say something."