It starts out with a justification that “it doesn’t hurt to drink a round or two…” but before you know it, you got drunk. And then decide to drive home anyway.
This is a very dangerous situation! Unfortunately, a lot of traffic fatalities, especially at night, are caused by drunk driving. According to the CDC, one out of every three vehicle deaths is due to alcohol consumption. Despite all the strict legal norms, educational programs, public awareness campaigns and warnings, a lot of drivers take this matter lightly. They still try to drive home even when they are heavily intoxicated.
If you decide to drive while drunk, you’re not just risking your life, but also the lives of the people around you. This is against the law.
Blood Alcohol Content
If a police or traffic patrol apprehends you, they will check your blood alcohol content or BAC. This is the measure of alcohol circulating in a person’s bloodstream. BAC is measured by grams of alcohol per 100mL of blood. Different countries have different levels of acceptable BAC. In Poland, that limit is 0.02%. In Austria, that’s 0.05%.
BAC depends on the number of drinks that a person ingested as well as body weight. This is to say that if you are skinny, you can get drunk more easily than a heavier person.
Alcohol serves as a depressant to the central nervous system of the human body. It affects the functioning of all the vital organs of the body. Alcohol is quickly absorbed into the blood stream from the stomach but the liver cannot metabolize it quickly.
Until alcohol circulates in the bloodstream, the drinker will be in a state of intoxication. Thus there are several reasons due to which “drink and drive” has been strictly considered as a legal offence.
Effects of Alcohol on Your Driving Ability
- Loss of Judgment: With a BAC as low as 0.02%, the driver loses the ability to make right and sound decisions. Making the right and accurate judgment is one of the key factors in driving. Compromising this ability is not such a good idea.
- Concentration: Under the influence of alcohol, preventing distraction or focusing on a particular task becomes extremely difficult.
- Comprehension: Alcohol greatly affects the functioning of the nerves and causes delays in transmitting the right message to the brain. It can creating confusion and make it difficult for the driver to interpret signals and road signs.
- Coordination: Alcohol consumption greatly affects the motor skills of the driver. This will hamper the process of multi tasking, which we take for granted while driving.
- Vision/ Hearing Impairment: Alcohol can also cause vision impairment. If this happens, the driver will be unable to clearly judge the distance between his car and the other vehicles. He may also fail to notice traffic signals and people walking on the road.
- Reaction-time: Alcohol consumption makes a person less reactive. If something happens that requires quick decision and action, an intoxicated driver will not be able to act in time.
As a result of the above, there are two legal proceedings put in place to curb the act of driving after drinking.
DUI – “Driving under the influence” of alcohol is considered as a crime. If you are apprehended by a police because they suspect that your driving is impaired. This is determined through a field sobriety test conducted by the officer.
DWI – “Driving while Intoxicated” is when the police suspects that you are highly drunk and will confirm it by using a breathalyzer which determines your intoxication level by analyzing the alcohol content in your blood.
Either way, if you have committed the offence for the first time, you may be sentenced to three days to one year of jail. The second offence will be ten days to one year. But if that doesn’t stop you from doing it again, the third offense will lead you to about four months to five years of imprisonment.
Your car insurance fees will also increase significantly for some time and you may be unable to rent a car in the country or abroad due to the alcohol conviction.
The bottom line is: “Don’t drink and drive!” If you are going to the bar, make sure to designate a driver who can bring you all home safely. If you can’t find a friend who’s willing to do that, then take Uber or Lyft or ride a cab. That’s safer and will help you avoid the consequences of drunk driving.