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The Question of Drinking and Driving

May 3, 2008
It's not a question of whether you are legally intoxicated, it's a question of whether or not it is safe to drive when you have consumed any amount of alcohol. Research shows that impairment begins long before a person reaches the blood alcohol concentration level necessary to be guilty of drunken driving.

The Legal Limit In all 50 states, the legal limit for drunk driving is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08. A 120-pound woman can reach a .08 BAC level after only two drinks and a 180-pound man can be at .08 after only four drinks.

This can equate to the 180 pund male reaching the limit after having a total of four drinks. A 120 pound female can reach this limit after only two drinks.

A "drink" is either one shot of liquor, a five-ounce glass of wine or one beer, all of which contain the same amount of alcohol. Not all "drinks" are alike. Be sure you know the alcohol content of the "drink" that you are having.

But tests have also shown that drivers at the .02 level experience a decline in visual response affecting their ability to track a moving object, and experience a decline in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time. This level also might also experience lightheadedness. These changes may be very subtle and barely noticable to the person who has had only one drink, but in an emergency situation while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, they could cause the driver to react (or not react) as they would without having had a drink.

At the .05 BAC level, people begin to exhibit exaggerated behavior, experience loss of small-muscle control, such as being able to focus their eyes quickly and have impaired judgment, lowered alertness and a release of inhibition. They might have some minor impairment of reasoning and memory, lowering of caution. Behavior may become exaggerated and emotions intensified (Good emotions are better, bad emotions are worse).

.05 BAC Level - At the .05 BAC level, people begin to exhibit exaggerated behavior. They may experience loss of small-muscle control such as being able to focus their eyes quickly and suffer impaired judgment, lowered alertness and a release of inhibition.

Upon reaching the borderline of the legal limit of .08, many deficiences are evident. Intoxication creates poor muscle coordination that can affect balance, speech, vision, reaction time and hearing. It is more difficult to detect dangers, and most exhibit impaired judgement, self-control, reasoning ability and memory.

For the person who is drinking, the above impairments may be hardly noticeable at the time, but the slow reaction times that they can produce could prove fatal in a emergency driving situation.

A driver with a BAC of .08 will find it more difficult to concentrate and might even have some short term memory loss. There is difficulty in judging the speed of the vehicle, and the experience of reduced information processing capability. They will exhibit impaired perception. At a .08 BAC level, drivers are so effected that the relative risk of a single- vehicle crash is 11 times more likely than drivers with no alcohol in their body. This risk is 52 tines higher for males! But 25 years of research has shown that some impairment begins for both men and women even after one drink.

You also have to keep in mind that alcohol affects people differently. Some people have a higher response to drinking alcohol than others. People with a higher tolerence to alcohol might not experience signs of impairment at the .05 BAC level that other drinkers experience at the .02 level.

The Safe Limit For this reason, in some states drivers can be arrested for driving while impaired even if their blood alcohol concentration is lower than the legal limit, if the law enforcement officer believes he has probable cause based on the behavior and reactions of the driver. It's simply not a wise choice to get behind the wheel no matter how much you have had to drink. The only safe driving limit is .00 percent.
About the Author
Learn how to Stop Drinking Alcohol In 21 Days - Guaranteed by expert Ed Philips and find further guidance here to help you Stop Drinking Alcohol.
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