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How to Drink Smart on Tequila Sunrise

Image shoes a photograph of a rising sun coming up over the horizon through a layer of clouds, slowly illuminating a mountain range of snowy peaks below.

How to Drink Smart on Tequila Sunrise

Image shoes a photograph of a rising sun coming up over the horizon through a layer of clouds, slowly illuminating a mountain range of snowy peaks below.

It’s that time again. No, not approach of Halloween, or fall, or the changing of the leaves. In just one week, it’ll be time for Northern Arizona University’s annual Homecoming festivities, which will include, inevitably, Tequila Sunrise. If you’re not familiar with this time-honored Flagstaff tradition, the unofficial event’s festivities take place in the early morning hours prior and leading up to NAU’s Homecoming parade and football game, and involves a series of bars, pubs, and other drinking establishments that promise to open and start serving alcohol — especially the so-called “tequila sunrise” cocktail — as early as 6 a.m. For the young people participating in the event, usually NAU students or alums, as well as a few Flagstaff locals, it’s excuse to go out, have some fun, and drink and dance the (early) morning hours away. For downtown business owners and locals living nearby, it may be an inconvenience and a nuisance.

This image shows a collage of three different images: one showing the famous Tequila Sunrise cocktail, one with a glass of beer, and one with a series of three bright, fruity cocktails sitting on a wooden counter.

We’re not going to tell you whether or not to partake, or how to. However, in the spirit of the upcoming festivities, we’d like to offer some advice, which is that if you do drink, drink smart, and do so responsibly.

Here are our top tips for how to drink smart on Tequila Sunrise (or any other occasion).

Most importantly, of course, is to prioritize your personal safety, as well as that of others.

To stay safe:

This image shows a street full of traffic in the distance. The closest vehicle is a taxi, and the illuminated yellow lettering on the sign on the hood of the car is shown clearly. At the top of the image, a caption reads: "Make a plan for how to get home."

Make a plan for how to get home.
  • Designate a driver among your friend group to get you home, download Uber or Lyft to your phone, or keep money and the contact info for a cab in a safe place where you will be able to find it later — whatever you need to do to make sure you get home safe.
Eat beforehand.
Stay hydrated.
  • This should be an obvious one, but it still surprises us how many people don’t know that alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it actually dehydrates the body, as opposed to hydrating it. Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your drinking session will keep you from getting dangerously dehydrated, help minimize the impact of alcohol on your system, and likely reduce the after-effects associated with a hangover, as well.
Know your limit.
  • Different people handle alcohol differently.
    • One of the quickest ways to end up drinking past your healthy limit is to try to keep up with everyone else. Men and people with a larger body mass can generally drink much more that those that are smaller than them without getting as intoxicated. It’s an unfair but very real and non-negotiable truth. Moreover, certain health conditions and/or medications can also affect the way alcohol impacts your body. Responsibility.org has an awesome tool (as well as an app) called The Virtual Bar that allows you to estimate your potential blood alcohol content based on factors like your age, height, weight, gender, type of drink, and whether you’ve had anything to eat.
    • Not all drinks are created equally, some will impact you more than others.
      • It matters not just how much you drink, but what you drink too. Different drinks have different AVBs, or alcohol by volume — which measures the percentage of how much alcohol (ethanol) is present in a given volume of a beverage. Wine usually ends up somewhere around the 11.6 percent mark, a stark comparison to beer’s only 4.5 percent average, though, of course, nothing is a strong as liquor, which usually hovers around 37 percent. The following graph from the NIH shows how the concept of a “standard” drink differs depending on the type of alcohol:

This graphic shows an illustration of a beer can, a glass of malt liquor, a glass of wine, and a cocktail glass of hard liquor side by side, comparing and contrasting how much liquid constitutes a "standard" drink for each.

    • It’s also important to keep in mind that darker colored alcohols tend to contain more impurities, and are thus more likely to leave you with a hangover the next day. Additionally, be wary of mixed drinks, or drinks including caffeine. These can mask the taste and even the effects of alcohol, causing many to accidentally overindulge.
Pace yourself (and track your drinking).
  • Most experts agree that the human body can only properly process about one standard drink every hour, so consider slowing your drinking to avoid getting more inebriated. It can also be a good idea to decide beforehand how many drinks you’re going to have, and to keep track of those drinks throughout the evening on your phone or by telling a friend to hold you accountable.
Learn the signs of alcohol poisoning and what to do if it happens to someone around you.

Naturally, even if you follow all of the above steps, it still doesn’t exclude you from the consequences of the law, so we’d like make a few suggestions on how to avoid those, too:

Don’t drink and drive — ever. Both the legal and physical danger this poses to yourself and others is too great to ever be worth the risk.
  • Or use a bike. Or a skateboard. Or a hover board. Or a scooter. Or a segway. Or anything besides your own two feet. Just like driving a car, using any of these modes of transportation while intoxicated can lead to legal consequences, too.
Resist using a fake ID.
  • We get it. 21 years can feel like a long time to wait to drink alcohol and to be able to go out and socialize in places that serve it, especially if there are other people in in your social group that are already doing so. However, the consequences for being caught with a fake form of identification are great enough — like losing your chance to take the LSAT or become a registered nurse — that we just can’t endorse it.
Don’t facilitate the consumption of alcohol by (other) minors.
  • Even if you’re already 21+, you can still get in trouble with the law for providing alcohol to those who aren’t.
Keep your behavior in check — and be aware of the law.
  • Usually when we hear about people getting arrested for being under the influence, they were operating a motor vehicle or drinking underage at the time, but these aren’t the only reasons an officer can find to arrest you. As Los Angeles-based criminal attorney Diana Aizman explained in a 2016 interview with Vice News, “if you’re posing a danger to yourself or to anyone around you and you’re unable to care of yourself in a reasonable fashion, a police officer has the discretion to arrest you for being drunk in public.” The best thing to do if an officer does stop you or try to arrest you for public intoxication? Stay quiet, advises Aizman. “ Everything you say is going to be used against you, that’s not just something you hear on TV. That’s true,” she adds.

At the end of the day, just keep in mind that virtually any amount of alcohol can cause impaired judgement (it really all depends on an individual’s personal tolerance, which can vary widely) and that heavy drinking can lead to all sorts of poor decisions, health problems, accidents, and dangerous situations.

The image shoes the dilapidated interior of a car after a car wreck. The caption above it reads "virtually any amount of alcohol cancan cause impaired judgement and that heavy drinking can lead to all sorts of poor decisions, health problems, accidents, and dangerous situations."

Drinking alcohol can be a fun social activity to do with your friends and a nice way to let loose for a night or two. However, this Tequila Sunrise, we hope that you’ll drink responsibly, in a way that minimizes the physical risks to both you and those around you.

All of this being said, we’re all human, and sometimes — in fact, especially — when we drink we can end up making mistakes, even doing things we would never do while sober. If you or someone you know finds yourself in trouble for something you did while intoxicated, or have been accused of doing so, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact Antol and Sherman online for a free consultation or by phone at (928) 214 – 6339.

Our team of dedicated trial attorneys at Antol & Sherman, PC, have more than 60 years of combined legal experience and a strong track record of providing successful legal counsel. We have been practicing criminal, family and divorce, drug and DUI, and accident law in Flagstaff, Arizona and surrounding northern Arizona cities including Camp Verde, Sedona, Williams, Holbrook, Winslow, Cottonwood, Mayer, Seligman, Kingman, Page, St. Johns and more for over 30 years. Antol & Sherman, PC and their staff of lawyers would love to sit down and discuss your legal needs. Please call us at 928-241-6339, stop in today at Antol & Sherman, PC, 150 N Verde St Suite 102, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 or visit us at flagazlaw.com.