As a college student, you face a lot of stress. Between heavy class loads, homework and a job to help pay the bills, you probably need to blow off some steam every now and again. You may be like many college students who choose to go out and drink to destress.

If you make unsafe choices while drinking, you may find yourself facing different consequences, like those associated with DUI charges. These consequences can often affect you for the rest of your life. Here are a few tips for staying safe when going out drinking:

  • Plan a ride – Whether you plan on paying for a cab or have a friend who will stay sober, make sure you and your friends don’t get behind a wheel while drunk. Alcohol impairs your ability to react quickly. And if a police officer pulls you over, you may face stiff penalties that affect your enrollment in school as well as opportunities for future employment.
  • Don’t mix substances – Mixing other substances like prescription drugs with alcohol further increases your impairment. And certain prescription drugs can have negative medical reactions like respiratory failure when mixed with alcohol.
  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach – Make sure to eat before going out. Having food in your stomach can help prevent you from getting too drunk too fast. Also, for every drink you have, try to have a glass of water.
  • Make a plan – Before you go out, try to make a plan for which bars you will go to. If you and your friends become separated, know where you should go or how you’re going to get home.

Drinking is a common way to have fun and relieve stress in college. But if you spend your free nights having a few drinks with friends, you may inadvertently put yourself in a situation that can affect you for the rest of your life.

Make sure you understand the risks associated with drinking.