TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - For many folks, ringing in the New Year is synonymous with popping the cork of their champagne bottle - or whatever alcoholic beverage is at hand.
Dawson Saia told 13 News he plans to celebrate the ball drop on Monday night by raising a glass or more. "Hopefully a lot," he said."[I'll] get pretty liquored up, have a good time," he said.
He wasn't the only one. People readily admitted to their drinking habits on New Year's Eve.
"I usually drink enough to get pretty tipsy," Larry Stadley II said, though he says he has decided to cut back this year for his children's sake.
"This year I probably won't do a whole lot of drinking," he said. "We have the babies. It'll probably just be my fiancee and me and the babies." Knowing his fellow motorists, he added, "We'll be hanging out at the house, staying off the roads for sure!"
Local liquor stores bristled with customers stocking up for the big night. The choices are plenty and moderation isn't always on the people's mind when they want to celebrate.
One woman said her New Year's resolution was, "to get as drunk as possible," or at least as much as she could handle.
Jim Hanni, Executive Vice President for Kansas AAA says New Year's Eve is the number one day for impaired driving.
"We have 10,000 fatalities each year in the United States that are alcohol-related. That's about 31% percent of all traffic crashes," he said.
"Depending on the year, there's about 45 - 55 alcohol-related fatalities in Kansas," around New Year's Eve, he said.
For some it takes a brush with fate to realize drinking and driving can be deadly.
"I had a very light tragedy that happened in my family this month," Houston James said. "No I don't plan on drinking, doing any drugs, or taking any illegal action this New Year's. I try to celebrate it the best way to bring on the New Year the happiest way I can," he said.
Hanni says if you're planning to drink, make sure you have options:
-Plan for a designated driver
-Don't become a victim by riding with an impaired driver.
-Don't hesitate to take the keys away from them
-If you see an impaired driver, keep your distance and call 911