When you’ve been the only sober person at a party, you know how severely alcohol can affect motor skills and judgment. The problem is, after consuming alcohol, some people don’t know their judgment is impaired. They see nothing wrong with driving, and many end up with a DUI or cause a fatal accident.
Many have lost a friend or family member to a drunk driver, but for some, that loss isn’t enough to keep them from getting behind the wheel. They don’t think it can happen to them and don’t consider the possibility that they might cause an accident. They also don’t realize a DUI can ruin their career.
Each year, 10,000 Americans are killed in drunk driving accidents. Police do their best to deter people from drinking and driving by setting up sobriety checkpoints, but today, these checkpoints are rare. “They’re not very popular. Police don’t like doing them,” says a 30-year veteran of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “They think it’s resource intensive and they feel like they can be more productive patrolling the streets.”
Checkpoints are effective at identifying intoxicated drivers, but they don’t stop people from making bad choices.
Alcohol Affects Everyone’s Brain
Alcohol impairs judgment and physical coordination, but under the influence, many believe they’re the exception to the rule. The truth is that nobody is the exception to alcohol’s detrimental effect on the brain.
A person doesn’t need to be drunk to be affected by alcohol. Even small amounts of alcohol, like a single shot or glass of wine, can impair judgment. Unfortunately, people who have been drinking just a little bit can make poor decisions that cost them their lives.
Driving a car isn’t the only deadly decision you can make while intoxicated. Even having one drink can make it seem okay to get in a car with someone who shouldn’t be driving.
For instance, in January 2017, two people chose to get in a car — a Ferrari — with an intoxicated driver. The driver missed a turn, went airborne, and drove the Ferrari 40 feet straight into the woods. The car flipped and rolled down a ravine. All three people sustained minor injuries but were okay. The driver was arrested for driving under the influence. It’s not clear whether the passengers were drinking, but something made them believe it was okay to get in that car.
Unfortunately, if you’ve been injured in a car accident by a drunk driver, your insurance company will do everything it can to protect its own interests. The first settlement offer might look good, but experts at the Colley Firm, PC point out that the first offer is most certainly less than what you’ll need long-term.
You Can’t Trust Your Own Judgment
When you’ve been consuming alcohol, you can’t trust your own judgment to know whether you’re okay to drive. According to The Conversation, when drunk drivers come to the ER, they’re often surprised to know their blood alcohol concentration is high. Despite outward appearances, they don’t always feel drunk.
You Can’t Trust a Breathalyzer to Tell You You’re Impaired
If you’ve bought a breath test to test yourself before you drive, you can’t trust that, either. The reading might be accurate, but it’s not an indication of how intoxicated you are. Knowing your BAC is below the legal limit only tells you that you probably won’t get arrested for a DUI if a cop stops you.
Alcohol affects each person differently, based on a variety of factors, and the legal limit in the United States is actually quite high. Most states adopted a 0.08% BAC limit in 1992, but some states still use 0.10%. Other countries have a lower legal limit. For example, many countries limit BAC to 0.05%.
Data shows that even a limit of 0.05% is too high. At a BAC of 0.05%, coordination and the ability to track moving objects are reduced, and steering becomes difficult. At this level, alertness is lowered, vision is less focused, and the ability to respond to driving conditions is diminished.
Choose Not to Drive Even When You’ve Had One Beer
The more alcohol you consume, the harder it is to know you’re impaired. The best way to make sure you don’t end up contributing to drunk driving statistics is to not drive when you’ve consumed any alcohol. Always have a plan for taking the time to get sober before driving home from concerts and parties.
If you’ve consumed alcohol and you think you’re okay to drive, remind yourself that you can’t trust your own judgment. Find a designated driver, call a cab, or wait it out.