alcohol bottle bar

Alcohol and driving can be a deadly combination. A driver who has had just one drink is twice as likely to be involved in a crash as a driver who has not consumed any alcohol.

Consider these facts:

  • In Texas, in 2010, there were 1,360 alcohol-related traffic deaths.
  • 42 percent of all fatal crashes in Texas were alcohol-related.
  • Approximately 30 percent of all of us will be involved in an alcohol-related collision at some time in our lives.

Driving is a complex task. In order to drive safely, our full mental and physical abilities need to be available to us. Alcohol diminishes these essential abilities.

After just two or three drinks drivers often make very common mistakes, such as:

  • Speeding up and slowing down
  • Running stop signs and red lights
  • Calling old girlfriends
  • Making sudden and unnecessary stops
  • Misjudging distance
  • Weaving

When we drink, the alcohol we consume is absorbed into our bloodstream. The amount of alcohol that we have in our bloodstream determines our blood alcohol concentration level or BAC.

BAC is the amount of alcohol that is present in a 100-milliliter volume of blood. For example, a BAC of .08 percent means that your blood contains .08 grams of alcohol per 100-milliliters of blood.

Your BAC provides a benchmark for your level of impairment. BAC can be measured by conducting tests on your breath (most common), urine and blood.

In Texas, the law says that you are guilty of DWI if your BAC is .08 percent or higher. This does not mean that you cannot be arrested for DWI just because your BAC is below .08 percent. Having a BAC level below .08 percent, in conjunction with other signs of impairment, can result in your arrest for DWI.

An individual’s BAC level will always depend on several factors including:

  • How much they drink: The more you drink, the higher your BAC level will become.
  • How fast they drink: The faster you drink, the faster your BAC level will rise. Consuming three drinks in one hour will make your BAC level higher than consuming three drinks in three hours.
  • How much food is in their stomach: Food will not stop alcohol absorption; it will, however, slow it down.
  • How much carbonated beverage was mixed with the alcohol: Mixing carbonated beverages with alcohol speeds the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream.
  • How much they weigh: A small person will be affected more quickly than a larger person who consumes the same amount of alcohol. The larger a person is, generally, the more blood there is in their bloodstream to dilute the alcohol and reduce its affects.

An Urban Legend

When I was in college, I once, I repeat once, went “snipe hunting.” It turned out to be an urban legend perfect for pulling a prank on a naive college freshman.

Another urban legend is that drinking coffee, exercising or taking a cold shower will accelerate the sobering process. That is just as wrong (or foolish) as sitting in the woods, in the dark, with a paper bag, waiting to capture an animal using such a preposterous method. There is no such thing as capturing a snipe in a paper bag! Just as there is no such thing as a shortcut to sobering up!

Alcohol leaves the body primarily through an oxidation process that is performed by the liver. There is nothing that can be done to speed up this process.

The average alcohol elimination rate is .015 percent per hour. Therefore, if an individual has a BAC of .08 percent, it will take an average of five to six hours for that amount of alcohol to be removed from their body.

The alcohol that we consume can be purchased in a variety of forms, including spirits, wine and beer. The alcoholic content of these different products varies widely.

The alcoholic content of spirits ranges from 20% to over 60%. Wines typically have an alcoholic content of 12% to 14%. The alcoholic content of beer can range from 3% (for a light beer) up to as much as 12%.

Regardless of our individual differences, it takes the human liver approximately one hour to process the alcoholic contents contained in one drink.

One drink is equal to:

  • 1 ounce of 80-proof liquor
  • A 4-ounce glass of wine
  • 8 ounces of beer

Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in our society and a drunk driver behind the wheel is a tragedy waiting to happen.

How many times has someone who has had too much to drink, said, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll be fine. I’ve driven in this shape many times before and never had a problem.”

Don’t ever drive if your abilities are in question due to alcohol consumption. You, and the other drivers around you, may not always be that lucky!