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Drunk Driving Myths Debunked
The Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year's holidays are upon us, and that means a month full of holiday parties, many of which will no doubt include enjoying a few cocktails. Unfortunately, this also means law enforcement and rescue workers will be busy, as drunken driving accidents invariably spike in the days surrounding any major holiday.
Of those killed in car crashes throughout 2013, 31 percent died in crashes involving a drunk driver - a percentage that has held true for over a decade. But during the six major holiday periods each year, that figure jumps to an average 40 percent of motor vehicle crash fatalities involving a drunk driver. Among the factors contributing to many of these accidents are a few all-too-common myths and misconceptions:
- "A quick sobering up is easy - All I need is a cool shower or a cup of coffee." Not so. Either of these may give you a spurt of energy, but neither will speed up sobering. That comes primarily by way of your liver metabolizing the alcohol in your system, and there are no short cuts.
- "Alcohol is a stimulant." Fact is, alcohol is a depressant. At low levels, it causes drowsiness, reduces your inhibitions and affects vision, balance, coordination, judgment and reaction time. At high levels, alcohol can actually paralyze your respiratory system, which can be deadly.
- "Waiting an hour after my last drink will make me fine to drive home." This depends largely on your physical size and your BAC (blood-alcohol concentration), which refers to the amount of alcohol in your body as determined by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of your blood. Your BAC rises in as little as half an hour after your first drink and continues to rise for about an hour after your last drink. From there, your BAC will go down by about .015 each hour, which means it can take far longer than an hour to clear a cocktail or two from your system.
- "I know when I'm too drunk to drive." Not likely. Among the first of the long list of alcohol impairments are your perception of your own physical state and your judgment, started at a BAC of just .02. Statistically, it appears that young males age 21-34 may be most convinced of this, as they account for nearly half (45 percent) of drivers caught drinking with BAC levels of .08 or higher.
- "I drive more carefully after I’ve been drinking." Make no mistake - You are the only one who believes this one. And you likely are giving police officers clue after clue, not to mention probable cause, by attempting to be overly careful - driving too slowly and stopping too far back from red lights and stop signs.
- "I can’t be convicted for driving under .08 BAC." Actually, you can. Law enforcement officers in every State can arrest or cite you for impaired driving at any BAC level. At best, this can lead to a drunken driving conviction on your permanent record. At worst, it can mean seriously injuring yourself, a loved one or a stranger, or even ending a life.
To help keep you and yours safe, celebrate the holidays without alcohol, limit your time on the roadways and be extra vigilant while driving, knowing that any of your fellow drivers may be impaired. If you or a loved one is injured or lost because of the actions of an impaired driver, get medical treatment, then call 407-999-8995 to reach a personal injury, auto accident or liquor law liability attorney with Orlando's Todd E. Copeland & Associates.