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How Can You Tell If You Drank Too Much to Drive?

Jul 28, 2008
When drinking in a bar, most drivers try to make sure that they do not exceed one drink per hour before driving. As a DUI lawyer, I represented many clients who have been arrested for DUI or DWI simply because they only counted the number of drinks they had.

I hear all the time "I only had two drinks". People are usually unaware of what they are drinking and what will cause them to get drunk. The number of drinks and the elapsed time is not an accurate indicator of your blood alcohol content. There are many, many other factors which must be considered.

Besides counting the number of drinks you had, you need to know how much alcohol is in the drink. Who made the drink? Maybe a bartender give you an overly generous amount of alcohol for a big tip. How big is the glass? Is it a tall glass or a standard size wine glass or 12 ounce can of beer? Is it a mixed drink that uses more than one shot of alcohol, such as a Long Island Iced Tea?

5 large glasses of orange juice each containing 1 ounce of 100 proof alcohol; and 5 small glasses of orange juice each containing 1 ounce of 80 proof alcohol will have very different effects on you.

One of the drinks, probably responsible for more DWI arrests than any other drink is the Long Island Iced Tea, probably because it is very popular; has an elegant sounding name; has been seen on TV and in movies such as Sex and the City; and is a large drink with a lot of alcohol. A Long Island Iced Tea is made with 5 equal parts of alcohols:

1 part Vodka
1 part Tequila
1 part Rum
1 part Gin
1 part Triple Sec
1 1/2 parts sweet and sour mix
1 splash Coca-ColaŽ

One of my female clients who weighs 95 pounds told me she only had two drinks and the cop was lying when he said that she was weaving in and out of her lane. She blew a blood alcohol level of .23. I asked her what she was drinking; how big were the glasses; how long a period of time elapsed; and what she was doing at the time.

She said that she was at a restaurant having dinner with a friend and only had two Long Island Ice Teas during the course of 1 1/2 hours. She indicated that the size of the glasses were large. She probably had the equivalent of 8-10 drinks (a drink contains 1.2 tablespoons of pure alcohol). Since an average adult body breaks down one drink every two hours, by the time she left the restaurant she was seriously drunk.

She never thought of how much alcohol was in her drink and only thought that since she only had two drinks over the course of 90 minutes, she was ok to drive. The reality was that she was so drunk, she was pulled over on the street just outside the restaurant. She never got very far.

While there are other factors you need to consider, you need to know how much alcohol is in your drink.
About the Author
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is a lawyer who represents DUI clients. You can find a DUI Lawyer at 1888drugcrimes.com
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