Alcohol Driving

Blood Alcohol Levels
Facts About Drinking And Driving
Drinking and Driving Effects



Alcohol Driving
Your blood alcohol levels are what determine your fitness to drive, NOT how you feel




Alcohol and driving is a deadly mix.

This fact, established by epidemiological data together with many controlled studies of alcohol and driving skills, is well-known and universally accepted.

According to the National Institute of Health... 

Alcohol is involved in 40% of traffic deaths. Among persons aged 16 to 20, the percentage is 36.

There is more, an analysis by NIH scientists indicate that over 70% of people in crashes caused by alcohol driving met the criteria of being alcohol dependent, but most have never been arrested or received treatment for alcoholism.


Facts About Drinking and Driving
What is BAC?

BAC stands for "blood alcohol concentration". Practically BAC represents the amount of alcohol in a person’s body.

BAC is measured by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood, thus "blood alcohol concentration".

Alcohol is quickly absorbed and can be measured within 30 to 70 minutes after a person has had a drink.


What Affects Your BAC?

  • The number of drinks The more you drink, the higher the BAC.
  • blood alcohol levels

  • How fast you drink When alcohol is consumed quickly, you will reach a higher BAC than when it is consumed over a longer period of time.
  • Your gender Women generally have less water and more body fat per pound of body weight than men. More alcohol remains in the blood of women.
  • Your weight The more you weigh, the more water is present in your body. This water dilutes the alcohol and lowers the BAC.
  • Food in your stomach Absorption will be slowed if you’ve had something to eat.


How Can I Reduce My Blood Alcohol Levels?

The only reliable method of reducing your BAC is to wait out the time for the alcohol to be metabolized.

Cold showers, black coffee, fresh air, exercise, vomiting and other home remedies may help you feel more alert but will not reduce your BAC.



Drinking and Driving Effects
How Alcohol Effects Driving Skills

  • Reaction time 2 units of alcohol have the effect of increasing reaction time by an average of 0.2 seconds, see details.
    Meaning, during alcohol driving, you may react more slowly than usual when something unexpected happens.
  • Vision Alcohol has short-term negative effects on vision.

    As BAC level increases, depth perception and night vision are affected.

    It becomes impossible to accurately judge how far away objects are when depth perception deteriorates. Furthermore, your vision becomes blurred or you may see double since eye muscles lose their precision causing them to be unable to focus on the same object.

    This is why drunk drivers tend to focus on the road straight ahead, avoid what is happening in their side vision and neglect center line, road signs, etc.

    Alcohol affects night vision as well by keeping the pupils from adapting from darkness to light. The oncoming headlights of a car will cause a drunk driver to be dazzled much more severely than a sober driver.

  • Poor judgment As I just mentioned, due to the depth perception damage,drinking and driving accidents you could have trouble judging your distance and speed relative to the other vehicles on the road.
  • Comprehension The depressant effect of alcohol slows down the ability to make rational decisions.
  • Coordination During alcohol driving, the mechanics of driving can be affected by reduced eye/hand/foot coordination.
  • False sense of confidence This is by far the most dangerous effect. Drinking alcohol may help you feel more confident, and to be sure of yourself that you are capable of driving.

    Despite all the above effects on your body, you may take risks you would not normally take.

    This is the part where you should be responsible enough to acknowledge your own situation and find a solution in the form of:

    • Designated drivers
    • Public transportation
    • Prior arrangements to stay overnight
    • Calling someone to pick you up.





Alcohol Driving
How To Spot a Drunk Driver

When you are driving, especially at night time, it's important to be aware of the other drivers next to you. Stay away if you see another vehicle in which the driver seems to be having problems with drinking and driving. Some signs of a drunk driver are:

  • Unable to stay within the lane
  • Driving too fast
  • Driving too slow
  • Taking wide turns
  • Slowing down and speeding up erratically
  • Driving too close behind another vehicle
  • Pulling over recklessly
  • Driving without using headlights


The Good News?

According to the National Institutes of Health:

  • Since the early 1980s, alcohol-related traffic deaths per population have been cut in half with the greatest proportional decline among persons 16-20 years old.
  • Reductions in driving after drinking saved more than 150,000 lives between 1982 and 2001 — more than the combined total saved by increases in seat belt use, airbags, and motorcycle and bicycle helmets
  • The number of alcohol-related traffic deaths among 16 to 20 year-olds in the U.S. decreased from 5,244 in 1982 to 2,115 in 2004 in large measure because of the legal drinking age of 21 and Zero Tolerance Laws.


If you or someone close to you is having problems with drinking and driving, and wants help and advice on quitting drinking then take a look at the following pages:



Return from Alcohol Driving to Alcohol Abuse Effects 

Return from Alcohol Driving to Alcoholism Help Homepage


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Deborah Morrow, M.S. Addiction Psychology, is the director of treatment programs for The Alcoholism Guide website. In her practice Deborah provides on-line coaching and support for those dependent on alcohol or who require other services such as relapse prevention or court mandated services. (Read More)






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