Most people have heard ad campaigns that drive home the point of why you shouldn’t drink and drive. But how many of us actually pay attention to these ads? Many people seem to think they are somehow invincible, and that somehow they can stay in control of a vehicle even if they’ve had too much to drink. If you are one of these people, there are some things you should think about before you get behind the wheel of a car.

Consider these important reasons for why you shouldn’t drink and drive:

1. Drinking and driving can create a permanent black mark on your record.

Drunk driving is a criminal offense that can carry stiff fines, jail time, and hamper your ability to get a job, qualify for housing, or gain access to other important services in the future. Do you really want to have to answer “yes” when asked if you have a criminal record? Is it really worth the risk of losing employment and other important opportunities?

2. You could cause significant property damage.

Many insurance companies will not pay for damages to your own vehicle that resulted from negligent drinking and driving. You could end up costing other drivers ? and yourself ? a ton of money by driving under the influence. Ask for a ride, take a taxi, or stay put to avoid totaling your car in a drunk-driving crash.

3. Consider the example you are setting.

If you have young children, younger siblings, or friends who look up to you, consider what example you are setting for them when you get behind the wheel of a car after drinking. Consider the embarrassment that you will face if you are arrested for drunk driving ? this is not a reputation you want to create for yourself.

4. Drinking and driving costs lives.

As many as 37% of all traffic-related fatalities are caused by drunk drivers. Not only does this cause tremendous heartache and suffering to injured parties and their families, but you may wind up causing an accident that you’ll regret for the rest of your life. Other drivers aren’t necessarily the only casualties ? you also put your own life at risk, as well as anyone else who rides in the car with you. Do you really want to risk playing with people’s lives?

Drinking and Driving Should Never Be an Option

The bottom line is that there are many reasons why you shouldn’t drink and drive, and not a single reason why you should. The best plan is to be prepared ahead of time by making transportation arrangements if you know that you plan to consume alcohol.

Planning Ahead

Don’t wait until you’re already impaired by alcohol to make a transportation plan ? by then your judgment is already compromised, and you risk making a stupid decision to drive under the influence. Leave the car and keys at home, choose a designated driver, or just make arrangements to stay where you are. Above all plan ahead, stay safe, and never drive under the influence of alcohol.