Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle – car, truck, motorcycle or any other motorized vehicle – after consuming alcohol is a serious crime. Drinking and driving is sometimes called driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), and involves operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of at least 0.08 percent. However, even a small amount of alcohol can lead to harmful situations. Some drivers may not even show warning signs of being under the influence, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less dangerous. It’s important to remember that any form of drinking and driving is illegal and can come with strict punishment.
The largest group at risk for drinking and driving are those who binge drink or are struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). This means they consume a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, putting them at risk for harmful side effects. It takes roughly 30 minutes to two hours for alcohol to be absorbed into your bloodstream. During this time, your breathing may slow down and your cognitive skills may be delayed. Because of this, it is always dangerous to drink and drive.
Alcoholism is a condition that can be treated with the help of a specialized treatment center. If you or someone you love is struggling with a drinking problem, it’s time to seek help and get your life back on track. Call a treatment expert now to find top-rated rehab facilities that fit your needs.
Dangers of Drinking and Driving
Any amount of alcohol in your bloodstream can impact your driving ability. The effects of alcohol abuse vary greatly, putting you at risk for causing an accident or highway injury. Safe driving requires the ability to concentrate, make good judgements and quickly react to situations. However, alcohol affects these skills, putting yourself and others in danger.
Here are several ways alcohol impairs your driving skills:
Slow reaction time
When alcohol is in your system, it affects how quickly you’re able to respond to different situations. Drinking slows your response time, which can increase the likelihood of an accident. Therefore, if the car in front of you brakes suddenly or a pedestrian crosses the street, it will take longer for your brain to process the situation and prevent an accident.
Lack of coordination
Heavy drinking affects your motor skills such as eye, hand and foot coordination. Without crucial coordination skills, you may be unable to avoid an impending harmful situation. Some telltale signs of reduced coordination include trouble walking, swaying and inability to stand straight. Too much alcohol can even make it difficult to get in your car and find its ignition.
Alcohol, no matter how much or how little, can influence your concentration. With driving, there are many things that require your undivided concentration such as staying in your lane, your speed, other cars on the road and traffic signals. Your attention span is dramatically reduced with drinking, which significantly increases the chance of an accident.
Excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact your vision. After drinking, you may notice that your vision is blurred or that you’re unable to control your eye movement. Impaired vision can affect how you judge the distance between your car and other vehicles on the road. Additionally, fewer objects may be visible within your peripheral vision, or what you can see to either side of you when looking straight ahead.
Your brain controls how you judge certain circumstances. When operating a motorized vehicle, your judgement skills play an important role in how you make decisions. For instance, you need to be able to foresee potential problems and make clear decisions if another vehicle cuts you off. Your judgement helps you stay alert and aware of surrounding conditions while driving.