Drinking and driving is an avoidable risk that leads to tragic accidents, injuries, and even death. If you’re planning on drinking alcohol but also commuting home afterwards, there are several ways that you can reduce your risk of getting behind the wheel.
You may think that it’s okay to drive after drinking alcohol if you plan on only having a few drinks. However, even a small amount of alcohol can impact your ability to drive safely. Depending on your blood alcohol content (BAC), you could be significantly impaired after just two or three drinks.
On average, it takes about one hour for your body to process one standard drink. That means if you finish that drink in 45 minutes or less (which is possible), then you’ve probably reached the legal limit for driving.
Even if you don’t feel like your buzz has set in yet, it almost certainly will soon –, and driving can be dangerous at any time after consuming alcohol. If you get pulled over by a cop, please don’t make your situation worse. Get a criminal defense lawyer that can help you get through this situation.
How Many Drinks Does it Take to Reach the Legal Limit?
A standard drink is about 12 ounces of 5% alcohol beer, 5 ounces of 12% alcohol wine, or 1.5 ounces of 40% alcohol liquor. To estimate how many drinks it takes to reach the legal limit in your state, use this BAC calculator.
You’ll find out how many drinks you can have and still drive legally, as well as the risks associated with different BAC levels. At a BAC of 0.08%, you’re legally drunk and at risk of a DUI. At this level, you’ve become significantly impaired and can expect to experience a wide range of negative effects.
Furthermore, at a BAC of 0.15%, you’re at risk of a DWI. So at this level, you’re very drunk and at risk of experiencing very serious side effects, including unconsciousness and death. At a BAC of 0.25%, you’re at risk of a DWR. At this level, you’re extremely drunk and at risk of experiencing extremely serious side effects, including death.
Driving Drunk is Very Dangerous
Unfortunately, drunk driving is a persistent problem. In fact, according to the CDC, every day, 33 people die as a result of alcohol-related car accidents. That’s one death every 50 minutes. Other sobering statistics include:
- Drunk drivers are responsible for about one-third of all traffic fatalities. – In 2015, almost 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired truck accidents.
- In 2015, one in three fatal car accidents involved a BAC of 0.08% or higher, which is the legal limit for drunk driving.
- The average BAC for DUI crash deaths is 0.16%. This means that of all people who die in accidents, more than half of them are legally drunk.
- The average BAC for fatal DWI accidents is 0.25%.
- Almost 50% of car accident deaths involving alcohol occur in the first three hours after drinking.
- The likelihood of being involved in an alcohol-related car accident increases greatly as BAC increases.
How to Avoid Driving Drunk
If you must drive home after drinking, try to avoid letting your BAC get too high. For example, if you typically drink three beers per hour and have a BAC of 0.08%, it would take you five hours to finish those three beers.
On the other hand, if you have a BAC of 0.15%, this same amount of time would result in a BAC of 0.22%. This is a significant difference, and it’s likely that your driving abilities would be impaired at the higher BAC.
Go to a safe place before you start drinking. Find a friend’s house, book a hotel room, or call a taxi to take you to your destination. Better yet, find a responsible friend who doesn’t drink and who can drive you to and from your party. You can also use a ride-sharing service (such as Uber or Lyft) to get home.
Ride with a Friend
If you’ve been drinking, you should avoid getting behind the wheel at all costs. If you must drive, you should avoid driving alone. Driving with a friend significantly reduces your risk of getting in an accident. If you don’t want to endanger your friend, however, you can also use one of these car apps to talk to your friend without distracting yourself from driving.
Use Public Transportation or a Taxi
If you’ve been drinking and don’t want to drive, you can take advantage of public transportation. If you live in a large city, you could even walk to a nearby subway or bus station and avoid driving entirely.
Unfortunately, not everyone lives near a bus stop, so you could also call a taxi to get home. Alternatively, if you live in a town or city with taxis, you could call one in advance and have it come to your house. This way, you can avoid driving completely.
Have a Designated Driver Who Doesn’t Drink
If you’re going to a party, you can ask a friend to be your designated driver. Your friend can drive you home safely, while you can enjoy yourself without worrying about driving. If you’re hosting a party, you can tell your guests that you’re offering rides home for anyone who’d like one.
This way, you won’t have to worry about drinking and driving. In fact, by hosting a party where guests can safely get home, you can help reduce drunk driving in your community.
Choose a Safe Place to Hang Out Before You Start Drinking
If you’re going out with friends and want to avoid driving drunk, you could try to finish your drinks before going to the party. Alternatively, you could try to find a safe place to hang out before you start drinking. This could be a friend’s house, a library, or another quiet place.
Drinking is a common social activity, but driving drunk is extremely dangerous. It’s important to be aware of the risks associated with driving drunk and take steps to avoid getting behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking.
To avoid driving drunk, you could go to a safe place before you start drinking, use public transportation or a taxi, have a designated driver who doesn’t drink or choose a safe place to hang out before you start drinking. No matter what precautions you take, however, you shouldn’t drive if you’ve been drinking.