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DWI: How Much is Too Much? [Part 2]

In my previous blog post, I discussed the dangerous mindset that many Americans have taken when it comes to drinking and driving. To further impress upon you, my readers, the importance of recruiting a designated driver, I think it is important to consider some of the alcohol-related facts and figures. Alcohol is a depressant. This is a drug classification that implies that the substance will slow the central nervous system. That is to say that a person under the influence of a depressant will have reduced motor coordination, will react more slowly to stimuli, and will have reduce brain processing skills. Taking in too much of a depressant drug can result in the respiratory system slowing to potentially fatal levels. Hence the reason that alcohol overdose can lead to comas and death.

In order to understand just how much you can have to drink before you reach the legal intoxication level, you must realize that not all drinks are equal. A bottle of beer, for instance, is not the same as a tumbler glass of vodka on the rocks. Twelve ounces of beer is the equivalent of five ounces of wine or just 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Consider a male (200 pounds) and female (150 pounds) going out for a few drinks. If she has four small glasses of wine and he has four beers, she will have a BAC of .135 and he would also be beyond the legal limit at .087 BAC.

So, legally, the man might be able to drive after three drinks, but remember that even at much lower BAC, driving can be impaired. At .05 BAC, a person will demonstrate exaggerated emotions, a decrease in reaction time and impaired judgment. That man would easily reach this level after his third drink.

It is also important to understand that it takes a long time for a person to burn off the alcohol in his or her system. For each hour that passes, the body’s BAC drops by .015. In other words that woman, having had four drinks, could not legally drive for more than three hours after her last drink (.015 * 3 = .045; .135 -.045= .09). Worse yet, there are often people still drunk while driving to the office in the morning. A person that goes out and binge drinks in the evening, sleeps a few hours, and then makes the commute to work can easily still fall beyond the legal level of intoxication when reaching the office.

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