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Summer in North Carolina is a great time to get together with friends. You've got the Outer Banks, as well as myriad other available locations that provide the perfect settings for recreational fun.

Whether you're on vacation or have simply survived yet another work week, you probably look forward to a little down time well in advance. Another thing you might think about ahead of time is how to avoid problems if you plan on imbibing alcohol during your leisure time.

Other tips for preventing drunk driving problems

Let's say you're at a party on a summer evening and you're having a great time with someone you've really been wanting to get to know better. The sunset, music and casual atmosphere prompts you to share a glass of wine or two. If you know you'll be driving home later (or, if things go well, may even be driving your friend home) you may want to keep the following ideas in mind for avoiding problems:

Always eat when you drink: Consuming food helps slow alcohol absorption in your body. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you eat something substantial with every alcoholic drink you consume.

Pace yourself: Waiting an hour (or several) in between libations may mean the difference between safe travel and intoxicated driving.

Shut yourself off ahead of time: If you know you'll be behind the wheel after the party's over, it may be best to have your last alcoholic drink well before your scheduled departure. Even better, you may want to have a cup of coffee or some other non-alcoholic drink in the hours before you drive.

Hand over your own keys if necessary: If you know you've had too much to drink, it's best to be forthright and ask someone else for a ride, call a taxi service or ask your party host if you can spend the night. Making responsible choices not to drive when you know you've compromised your ability to do so safely by too much alcohol consumption is not only wise, it may save lives as well.

You needn't assume you'll be automatically convicted and sent to jail if police pull you over and charge you with intoxicated driving. There are issues that may adversely affect chemical test results, not to mention that police officers are capable of error the same as everyone else. If you face drunk driving charges, not only might it be a real downer of an ending to a great evening with friends, it could also place your entire reputation (and job) on the line.

It's understandable you'd want to secure help as soon as possible if police say they pulled you over because your car was swerving, you were going too slow or you were exhibiting some other type of behavior that made them think you were drunk. An experienced defense attorney can challenge any one of these issues in court in order to seek a positive outcome on your behalf.

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