Friday is St. Patrick's Day, and several celebrations around the area, and across the country, will include alcohol.

While it's a good idea to remember to don your green as you celebrate with Family and friends, taking a few key steps to party responsibly can help you avoid parting ways with a different type of green.

Drinking and driving is not only dangerous, but also expensive. No matter where you live, an arrest can have serious legal, emotional and financial consequences that can quickly drain your bank account.

According to the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, the cost of a DWI or DUI conviction can range between $5,000 and $20,000. Attorney's fees, court costs, increased insurance costs, bond payments and the license reinstatement process can add up quickly. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, simply getting pulled over with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or higher costs an average of about $3,000 to defend.

Party responsibly

When it comes to alcohol, the No. 1 recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control, USACRC and other federal agencies is to make a plan, starting with choosing a designated driver for your unit or group before you head out.

Designated drivers are non-drinking drivers who agree to stay sober so they can safely drive their friends, coworkers or fellow service members to a celebration or between venues and safely deliver them home.

Here are some other recommendations:

-- If you're alone and have been drinking, get a ride home with a sober driver;

-- If you don't have a sober friend or designated driver available, call a taxi. Carry extra money for cab fare;

-- Don't let your friends drive impaired. Make sure they get a ride with a sober driver or call a taxi for them. Also, don't be afraid to hide their car keys -- even if they get angry with you.

For service members, the USACRC recommends starting a designated-driver program for each unit. You can learn more on the USACRC home page at

Be a responsible host

If you're hosting a party where alcohol is served:

-- Remind your guests to plan ahead and choose a designated driver in advance.

-- Responsible hosts cater to designated drivers. So, be sure to offer them a variety of alcohol-free beverages, plenty of good food and your thanks because they are literally acting as the "life" of the party.

-- Make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.

-- If you can't find a sober driver for an impaired guest, suggest they sleep over.

-- If all else fails, and an impaired person insists on leaving or becomes belligerent when you try to assist them, call law enforcement. Your guest will very likely survive an arrest or a night in jail. The same can't be said if they get behind the wheel.

-- Never, ever serve alcohol to minors.

(Editor's note: Information also provided by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Missouri Department of Revenue.)