Most people are well aware that drinking & driving don’t mix. Even so, a staggering number of Americans get in the driver’s seat while legally intoxicated. Every year, there are, on average, 11,000 fatalities attributed to drinking while driving—this accounts for about a third of traffic deaths.
Many people simply judge their ability to drive according to how they feel. But the effects of alcohol can be subtle, and inebriation is not always apparent; so, even if the room is not spinning, your reflexes could be affected just enough to make driving a serious danger.
An article written by the Wall Street Journal’s Melinda Beck offers particularly cogent insight on factors which contribute to intoxication, some of which may surprise you:
Drinking on an empty stomach slows your reflexes more than drinking on a full stomach.
The effects of alcohol can increase if you are tired, sick, stressed, or depressed.
Even though a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% is the point of illegality for drivers, reflexes slowdown at only about half that amount.
Carbonated drinks irritate the stomach lining, which causes the alcohol to be absorbed faster and, in turn, increases alcohol levels faster than non-carbonated drinks.
Drinking coffee may increase your responses but it won’t affect your BAC.
Statistically, women and older individuals reach legal drunkenness faster than men and younger people.
It takes more alcohol for a regular drinker to reach the legal limit, a fact which can be in-and-of-itself dangerous since it can inspire the consumption of even more alcohol.
It is important to keep in mind that the liver can only break down about one drink per hour. Limiting your intake to one drink every hour is therefore the safest way to consume alcohol. Going over that amount is when the alcohol begins to enter the bloodstream and other organs, including the brain.
Lastly, always remember that Pennsylvania observes the Implied Consent Law. Upon becoming a licensed driver in this state you automatically consent to taking one or more chemical tests if a police officer suspects you have been driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you refuse to take one of the three chemical tests—including breath, blood, and urine tests—you can face some serious penalties, even if it is proved that you were not under the influence.
More information on driving while intoxicated can be found on this website in our personal injury law articles section. There you can find articles on topics like teenage binge drinking and intoxication among motorcycle riders.