It may seem like one of the simplest of concepts, but understanding the importance of choosing to not drive after having a few drinks is something that cannot be overstated. In 2008, 11,773 people were killed as the result of a drunk driving accident, with the number of those injured exponentially higher. These numbers do not need to be this high, and even though the number of drunk driving fatalities are on the decline, the attitude of the general public about drinking and driving still needs some changing.
Driving at the Legal Limit (.08)
Over the past decade, there have been a high number of campaigns to stop drunk driving accidents. Many campaigns have focused on those who are severely intoxicated and yet still are allowed to get in their car and drive, putting themselves and others in harms way. However, research has shown that impairment begins long before a person reaches the blood alcohol concentration level necessary to be guilty of drunken driving, which in all 50 states means having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08. Even more startling, is the how little it takes to for an average sized person to reach the legal blood alcohol concentration limit. For a 120-pound woman to reach a .08 BAC level, it only takes two drinks. For a 180-pound man can be at .08, it only takes four drinks.
Before we move forward, it is important to define the term "drink." A drink is defined as either one shot of liquor or a five-ounce glass of wine or one beer, all of which contain the same amount of alcohol. So for an average size man, 5 feet 10 inches tall and 180 pounds, reaching a BAC of .08 is as simple as having two 12 oz glasses of beer. In other words, reaching a the legal limit or going above the limit is easy to do, even doing something as harmless as having dinner with friends or family one can easily exceed the legal limit to drive.
Effects of Having a Blood Alcohol Level at .02
For the general public, we tend to think of the legal limit as when effects of alcohol begin to take place. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, both men and women begin to experience impairment with a the blood alcohol level as low .02, which is well below the legal limit in the United States. At .02, drivers experience a decline in visual functions, which affects the ability to track a moving object, and experience a decline in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time.
Effects of Having a Blood Alcohol Level at .05
When a person's blood alcohol level reaches .05, which is once again below the legal limit, individuals begin to exhibit exaggerated behavior, experience loss of small-muscle control such as being able to focus their eyes quickly, have impaired judgment, lowered alertness and a release of inhibition. What this means is that it is legal for a person to get behind the wheel of a car and be clearly impaired.
The point of this information is simply to illustrate how quickly and easily reaching these levels of impairment is to do. Having less than two "drinks" over dinner with family or friends is a very common occurrence within our culture, particularly in the Northwest where we have an abundance of World class restaurants, wineries, and breweries. As a personal injury law firm who sees far too many injuries resulting from impaired driving, Davis Law Group and Seattle Attorney Chris Davis cannot stress the importance of having a designated driver if you are going to drink.
"No taxi cab fare, no matter how expensive, will ever compare to the emotional expense of a lost life."-Chris Davis