The number of drunk driving wrecks always increases in the days between Christmas and the New Year as people go to holiday parties and celebrate with friends and family over a few (or more than a few) drinks. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 40% of all deadly auto wrecks in this time period involve a drunk driver.
This leaves many drivers wondering, “is it safe to drive myself home if I’ve only had one or two beers?” The answer is no. While one to two drinks will usually keep you below the legal limit, any amount of alcohol CAN impact your ability to drive safely, and in ways you may not even realize.
Even Small Amounts of Alcohol Increase Accident and DUI Risks
When drinking alcohol, you become impaired even before you begin to feel “buzzed.” This is what makes driving after drinking so dangerous—it’s affecting you while you still “feel” sober and is likely also impacting your judgement about your own level of sobriety. By the time you start to “feel” the impact, you are well beyond the point of being safe to drive.
Furthermore, you can get a DUI even if you’re under the legal limit in Georgia if the police officer determines in his or her judgement that your driving ability has been noticeably impaired. The safest thing to do is not risk it. If you plan on drinking, then do not drive yourself home from the bar or party. Take public transportation, ask a sober friend to drive you, or call a cab or rideshare service.
How Alcohol Affects Drivers
Alcohol has a negative effect on nearly every aspect of driving. The more you drink, the more you are impaired. But there ARE actual, demonstrable impacts on driving ability from the very first drink.
Here is how a person’s ability to drive is typically affected based on how much they’ve had to drink. Keep in mind, this is a very general progression — a person’s level of actual impairment can be faster or slower based on a wide variety of factors including gender, weight, genetics, and if the person has been eating or drinking anything else or combining alcohol with other drugs. But note that BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) goes up highest by having either a lot of drinks, or more than one drink in a short amount of time (within an hour).
- 1 Drink (~BAC of 0.02%): Ability to multitask and track moving objects is affected.
- What this means: You may have difficulty driving if you are also trying to listen to directions from your GPS or hold a conversation with a passenger. You may also have a harder time noticing other vehicles or pedestrians around you, leading to the “they came out of nowhere” cliché after a crash.
- 2 Drinks (~BAC of 0.05%): Coordination and reaction time are affected.
- What this means: You may have difficulty steering or shifting. If you need to quickly slow down, stop, change lanes, or turn, you may not have enough time to do so before colliding with another vehicle.
- 3-4 Drinks (~ BAC of 0.08%): Legally intoxicated. Perception and concentration are affected.
- What this means: You may not be able to tell how fast you are driving or whether you are driving within your lane. You will very easily lose concentration, and you may forget to signal before changing lanes, fail to stop at red lights or stop signs, or miss your turn.
- 5-6 Drinks (~BAC of 0.10%): Information processing slows.
- What this means: You may no longer be able to steer, accelerate, or brake correctly.
- 6+ Drinks (~BAC of 0.15%): Information processing, perception, and coordination severely decline.
- What this means: You may no longer be able to accurately see or hear what is happening around you. This is why drunk drivers can get into wrecks and keep driving without realizing they ever hit anything, despite injuries or damage to their vehicles.
Most people aren’t aware that even one or two drinks can impact their ability to drive, and they may think they can still safely drive as long as they don’t “feel” any different. This is not true. Even scarier, one study found that nearly 1/3 of people aged 18-34 believe that some people are “good at drunk driving.” This is blatantly untrue and VERY DANGEROUS THINKING.
If you have a close friend or family member who believes that they can drive just fine when drunk, or possibly even think they drive better when drunk, make sure to discuss with them all the ways that drinking can impair their driving without them realizing it. Because they could be putting their own lives and the lives of everyone around them at risk every time they get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.
We Get Justice and Compensation for Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving is always a negligent act, and when innocent people are injured, or in the worst circumstances, killed by a drunk driver, that driver needs to be held responsible for their negligence and recklessness.
While taking away the license of a drunk driver or putting them in jail may keep them from harming others in a future drunk driving accident, it doesn’t get your family the compensation it needs to cover your many medical bills, and in the case of fatal accidents, the cost of a funeral, lost income, and loss of the love and companionship of your loved one.
Our firm has handled many of these cases, and we are always stunned at the excuses drunk drivers have for getting behind the wheel while blaming others for their bad decisions.
Our Georgia and Alabama drunk driving injury lawyers know that this is compensation that you desperately need, but recovering from your injuries, or the grieving process, is often more important. So contact our firm and let us handle the legal side for you while you focus on recovery. Our phone lines are open 24/7, and your initial consultation is always free.