Dangers of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

driving under the influenceSo you’re at a bar with a few friends for a good time. You’re about three drinks deep. Or is it five? You lost count. As the bartender does a last call for drinks, you decide to have one more. A small beer isn’t going to hurt anyone, you say. The bar closes up and you head out; you and your friends parting separate ways. They get into a cab and offer you a ride but you can still walk, you’re not slurring words or tripping, so you decide to drive.

In a choose-your-own-adventure book, there could be a myriad of actions that result from your choice to go with your friends in the taxi or take a chance at the wheel. In reality, while many things can happen on the road from the bar to your house, one consequence all too often ends up in the headlines or with you behind bars. Driving while intoxicated is no joke and the facts aren’t either.

Drunk Driving Facts

Traffic incidents involving alcohol happen more often than you think. Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. estimates that nearly 15 million persons are arrested for driving under the influence each year. That doesn’t nearly account for those people who drove under the influence and didn’t get caught. One in three Americans will drive impaired at some point and of those who do, most drive impaired 300 times before getting arrested.

  • In 2010, more than 10,000 people were killed due to traffic incidents involving alcohol (Center for Disease Control).
  • A little over 8 percent of traffic fatalities are the result of a driver who is intoxicated and holds at least one previous DUI or DWI.
  • Someone dies from an alcohol-related traffic incident every 48 minutes.
  • Drivers aged 21 to 25 made up the highest age group of drunk drivers in 2010, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA).
  • About 31 percent of fatal crashes occurred during the weekend in 2010, while only 16 percent occurred during the week (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

Is Having Two Drinks and Driving Really a Big Deal?

It can be. The number of drinks you consume doesn’t matter when compared to what you are drinking and over what time period. Three low-gravity beers may equal one 5-ounce glass of red wine but if those two beers were consumed back to back and the glass of wine over an hour, there is a big difference in how your body processes the alcohol content. According to Michigan State University, the average person can process one unit of alcohol per hour. That’s one 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or one 1.5-ounce unit of liquor (either straight or mixed). Of course your body weight, metabolism, what you’ve eaten, and how quickly you drank also play a role.

If you have three beers in one hour, you essentially have two extra beers floating around in your system waiting to be metabolized. In hour two, if you have three more, you now have five alcoholic units in your body. Impairment can happen much sooner than you realize. Even a 0.02 BAC level can prove fatal, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Essentially, even though you may not feel drunk, your body still hasn’t processed all the alcohol in your system, and every time you get behind the wheel, your risk of fatality increases.

Get Help Today

Don’t let yourself or someone you know drive drunk. You might think that an accident won’t happen to you if you’re careful but remember that you’re impaired even if you don’t realize it. Dangerous driving behaviors may also be an indication of alcohol abuse or alcoholism. If you notice a pattern in your or someone else’s drinking behaviors, call The Oaks at La Paloma today. Our specialists are skilled and experienced in alcohol-related problems and can help find a treatment plan that’s right for you.