Drunk driving, or driving under the influence (DUI) is an incredibly dangerous and selfish act to engage in. Everyone knows drunk driving is illegal, it has been for years, and there have been countless campaigns against it. Yet many argue they are fine to drive after a few beers. They probably do not understand the full effects that alcohol has on their driving. In this blog post, we will dive deeper into the ramifications and consequences of driving under the influence.
How Much Is “Too Much?”
Simply put, every person’s body is different. There are people who can consume a single glass of wine without feeling impaired whatsoever, and then there are people who consume a single glass of wine and they start to feel a little woozy. Although there is no designated “amount” of alcohol that is safe before driving, there is a set blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level- 0.08%. That is a federal law which is used by law enforcement to determine potential drunk drivers for being “too impaired to drive.” It is expressed as a percentage, which is calculated by a ratio of ethyl alcohol (measured in grams) per 100 milliliters of blood. For example, a BAC of 0.06 percent means that you have 0.06 grams of alcohol for every 100 milliliters of blood. Every person’s body metabolizes alcohol at different rates, which is why there is no true standardized “amount” of alcohol that is “okay” to consume before getting behind the wheel of any vehicle. The smartest move? Don’t drink before you drive, period.
How Does Alcohol Affect Your Ability to Drive?
Determining “how does alcohol affect a driver?” is somewhat of a case by case basis, but there are some overarching factors which contribute to repeated negative outcomes. Alcohol affects your body and its ability to drive in ways you may not have considered, and some of these instances are listed below.
- Weakens your judgment: As a driver, you need to make an ongoing series of decisions. You need to assess how fast other vehicles are moving, measure distances, and understand time gaps. When you engage in drinking and driving, you are opening yourself up to bad judgment calls which you may not make while driving sober.
- Slows your reactions: When you see the red brake lights of a car in front, your foot probably presses on the pedal automatically. A split-second delay because you are drowsy due to alcohol consumption could be the difference between hitting the car in front and stopping safely. Your reaction time slowing while operating any sort of machinery is an immediate red flag.
- Affects your vision: If alcohol blurs your focus, you might miss seeing a pedestrian or an animal stepping into the road. This is potentially one of the worst factors of alcohol consumption and driving, as vision is necessary to operate a vehicle safely.
- Reduces your ability to judge colors: Road signage and stop signs rely on you to distinguish between different colors. Being able to properly identify and read road signs decreases in correlation to the amount of alcohol consumed before driving a car.
- Reduces your coordination: Think back to when you first learned to drive. It was not easy to coordinate your hands and feet to move forward or stop without stalling. It becomes natural with time, but drinking can make it more difficult.
- Induces drowsiness: Drunken drivers often weave across the road because they are struggling to stay awake. Alcohol relaxes your body, and you need to be alert while at the wheel. It is easier to doze off later at night, which is the same time as when the majority of drunk driving accidents occur. Drinking and driving is dangerous at any time of the day, but even more so at night when vision is impaired ten fold.
Driving Under the Influence with Caffeine In the Mix
Many people think it is safe to consume alcohol, wait a little, and then drink a caffeinated beverage to “sober” themselves up before getting behind the wheel of a car. What people don’t realize is that alcohol and caffeine together is a dangerous combination for your heart rate. In situations where you may have had too much to drink, consuming an energy drink isn’t going to make the “drunk” go away. It’s simply going to make you feel more alert, but you’re still fully impaired, and your BAC is most likely already above the legal limit. And no, caffeine will not make your BAC drop faster. You’re just setting yourself up for a potential pullover or accident.
Plan Ahead and Stick to It
Now that we have answered the question of “why is drinking and driving so dangerous?” in this blog, Cheves Briceno hopes you understand a little bit more about how alcohol affects people’s driving. Our biggest tip is to plan your night ahead. Spontaneity is fun, but death isn’t. Pack an overnight bag if you know you’re going to be intoxicated. Be overly cautious and avoid making questionable decisions on other people’s behalf. You should understand why drivers who drink pose such a threat to you. Take extra care on the roads late at night, especially around the time that bars shut. There are likely to be many drivers in less than optimal conditions who could injure you in a car crash.
Cheves Briceno is the leading law firm in Peachtree Corners and we are here to serve you. If you or a loved one have been involved in a DUI case, contact us today so we can decipher how we can best help the issue(s) at hand.