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Tips for staying sober on the 4th of July

Many Americans can't imagine celebrating the Fourth of July without alcohol. Beer, wine and stronger beverages are a part of many pool parties, backyard barbecues and fireworks celebrations.

Too often, people lose track of how much they've had to drink over the course of a Fourth of July celebration. They may get behind the wheel thinking that they can safely drive (and maybe they can). However, if they're pulled over by one of the many law enforcement officers on the roads that day, they can find themselves over the legal limit and under arrest.

One way to avoid having the Fourth turn into a holiday you'll long remember -- and not fondly -- for months and possibly years to come is to commit to not consuming alcohol. You can refrain from drinking and still enjoy the holiday.

One way is to find something to do that doesn't lend itself to drinking. Get some friends together for a hike -- or find a hike in your area and meet up with others. You can find lots of hiking groups in and around Athens through Meetup. You might prefer to find a 5K race instead.

Maybe your idea of a good time doesn't involve sweating. You can still get together with some friends who can have fun without alcohol. Going to a movie is one option.

Even if you go to a party where alcohol is flowing, you don't have to indulge. However, unfortunately, people who choose not to drink often find that they constantly have to explain themselves. That requires a bit of strength and self-confidence. Keeping a nonalcoholic drink in your hand can help. So can having a friend or relative with you. Committing to being a designated driver for your family or friends can help provide strength for dealing with pressure.

If you're in a social situation on the Fourth when the temptation or pressure to drink when you shouldn't is too much, have an exit strategy. Be prepared to slip out. Not as many people will notice as you think. You can always have an excuse prepared for your hosts, like having to get home to comfort your dogs when the fireworks begin.

If you find yourself facing your first DUI on the Fourth, don't take the matter lightly. A conviction can have a significant impact on your future. An experienced attorney can help.