Nov 2014

Prevent Irvine Crashes: Remember Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

With the holiday season fast-approaching, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released an alert reminding motorists about the dangers of driving while impaired by alcohol. The NHTSA stressed the importance of staying sober on holidays, and to take extra precautions in winter, which offers fewer daylight hours. The NHTSA also reminded motorists buzzed driving is drunk driving. 

Making smart choices about alcohol impairment is something you need to think about at all times throughout the year. However, some of the most dangerous days include Thanksgiving weekend, Halloween, Christmas weekend and New Year’s Eve and Day.

Many people will have just a drink or two to celebrate. However, a personal injury lawyer knows even “buzzed” driving can significantly increase the risk of a motorist becoming involved in a crash. The only way to avoid injuring yourself or others (and to avoid arrest) is to be 100 percent sure you are sober before you get behind the wheel.

Buzzed Driving is Dangerous for Motorists

Under current rules, you can drive if you have a blood-alcohol concentration below .08 percent. However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended lowering the permissible BAC to .05 because motorists at this level are already starting to suffer the effects of alcohol impairment.

It is very difficult to know exactly when you have had too many drinks or are over the limit. This is because everyone’s body processes alcohol differently depending upon many factors, including how frequently they drink, their weight, and their gender.

The Daily Mail reported on a study determining how much alcohol motorists could actually consume before their driving was affected. Those involved in the study had different ages, weights, heights and drinking ages, and they were given different amounts of vodka until their blood alcohol levels reached the legal limit. Researchers also measured the point at which participants reached the proposed lower limit. The motorists were then tested on high-tech driving simulators.

The results were surprising because there are unpredictable differences in reactions to alcohol. For example, a slim dancer ended up needing to consume more alcohol before she was rendered unable to drive safely compared with a woman who was much heavier. This is contrary to the common belief that people who weigh more can always drink more.

Business Insider also acknowledged the unpredictability and difficulty estimating alcohol concentration. However, the article indicated that as a general matter, a 100-pound man who had one drink would have a blood-alcohol concentration of .04 percent, while a woman who had the same amount would have a blood-alcohol concentration of .05 percent. For men, the legal limit was generally hit at two drinks if they weighed 100 pounds,  three drinks if they weighed 140 pounds and four drinks if they weighed 180 pounds.

Drivers shouldn’t count on these charts to determine if they are sober enough to get behind the wheel. Unfortunately, as Young Men’s Health points out, consuming alcohol makes it harder to think clearly and to make good choices. This means once you have a drink, you may feel like you are OK to drive, even though you aren’t. The best thing to do if you know you’re going to drink is not to take a chance and just make sure you don’t have to drive.

If you’ve been injured, or you lost a loved one, contact the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton at (949) 757-0707 to speak with a personal injury attorney in Irvine, CA.  Serving Los Angeles, Irvine, Santa Ana, Riverside and surrounding areas.