Plan ahead to avoid over-indulging on New Year's Eve.

If you plan on drinking on New Year's Eve, here are some suggestions on how to pace yourself.

First, let's state the obvious: Don't drink and drive -- to avoid an accident and to stay out of jail.

Holiday revelers may not recognize that decision-making abilities are diminished long before they show physical signs of intoxication, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Initially, alcohol acts as a stimulant, which is why drinkers start out feeling upbeat and excited. But inhibitions and judgment are soon affected.

As more alcohol is consumed, reaction time suffers and behavior becomes poorly controlled and sometimes aggressive. Continued drinking can lead to the slurred speech and loss of balance that are typically associated with being drunk -- and with embarrassing yourself in front of your friends.

So before you celebrate, plan ahead. Know what constitutes a standard drink and have no more than one per hour. Have “drink spacers” -- make every other drink a nonalcoholic one.

And considering the consequences of an arrest or a crash, make plans to get home safely.

Remember that a designated driver is someone who hasn’t had any alcohol, not the person in your group who drank the least.