No one intends to drive while under the influence of alcohol. In some cases, people do so because they don’t have access to public transportation or anyone in their lives who can drive them home from the bar. It’s also not uncommon for people to underestimate how impaired they actually are. Therefore, they may not think that what they are doing will result in any negative consequences. However, the truth is that drunk driving will typically have a significant impact on your life.
What Is the Legal Definition of Impairment?
In the United States, you cannot operate a motor vehicle if your blood alcohol level is higher than .08%. In the state of Utah, this threshold is reduced to .05%, and commercial drivers generally must stay below .04% if they want to be in compliance with state and federal laws.
Minors are not allowed to have any alcohol in their systems while driving a car or truck. One alcoholic beverage increases your blood alcohol level by about .02%, and a single drink is roughly equivalent to a can of beer, a shot of liquor or a glass of wine.
Impairment Can Occur After a Single Drink
Although legal impairment doesn’t occur until you consume roughly four drinks, you could still be charged with DUI if you have had as little as one alcoholic beverage. This is because you begin to lose control over your senses as soon as alcohol enters your bloodstream.
At roughly .02%, you will notice that your body feels warmer and that your inhibitions are starting to drop. Therefore, you may have a harder time making responsible decisions such as adhering to the posted speed limit or keeping your vehicle in its proper lane. You may also struggle to process information such as the fact that you’re approaching a stop sign or that the car in front of yours has applied its brakes.
By the time you hit .08%, you lose significant control over your hands, feet and other muscles. You may also have a harder time standing in place or keeping your eyes fixed on a single location. By the time that you exceed .08%, you may have difficulty speaking or paying attention to your surroundings.
If you continue to consume alcohol after this point, you may be at risk for severe injury or death. This is because your body has an increased tolerance for pain, which means that you may be more likely to engage in activities that you would generally avoid while sober. Furthermore, you may be more likely to refrain from seeking medical treatment for cuts, scrapes or other ailments because you’re not in pain.
Many Factors Impact Your Exact Level of Impairment
A number of variables come into play when determining how alcohol will impact your mind and body. For example, men generally have a higher tolerance for alcohol than women because they tend to weigh more. Those who have a history of alcohol consumption may also have a higher tolerance than those who might be doing so for the first time.
Typically, it’s easier for your body to absorb alcohol after you have eaten, which means that you may have a lower level of impairment relative to your blood alcohol level. Finally, the presence of mental or physical health problems may have an impact on your ability to cope after consuming beer, liquor or wine.
Who Is Most Likely to Engage in Drunk Driving?
Drivers between the ages of 21 and 25 are statistically the most likely to engage in this activity, and they are also among the most likely to cause an accident that results in injuries or deaths while impaired. Drivers between the ages of 26 and 35 are also more likely to drive while impaired by alcohol compared to their older peers. Although those under the age of 21 are prohibited from buying, possessing or consuming alcohol, drunk driving is also common among those between the ages of 16 and 20.
You Could Be Charged With DUI Even If You’re Not Driving
In many states, you only need to be in control of a vehicle to be charged with drunk or impaired driving. Generally speaking, being in control of a vehicle means that you are inside of it while intoxicated. Therefore, you could risk serious penalties for simply falling asleep inside of your car after spending several hours at a bar or house party. This may be true even if you’re not sitting in the driver’s seat when you are found or if you aren’t in possession of any keys when discovered by an officer.
What Are the Potential Legal Penalties for a DUI Conviction?
If you are convicted of drunk or impaired driving, you could face a variety of penalties such as a fine, jail time or the loss of your driving privileges. You may also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle as a condition of having those privileges restored.
Penalties may be enhanced if there are aggravating factors in your case. Aggravating factors may include driving with a child in your car or operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level above .15%. You may also face enhanced penalties if you cause injury, death or property damage as the result of driving while under the influence of alcohol. If you are convicted of driving under the influence multiple times over the course of a single decade, your license may be revoked.
Why Are Some People More Likely to re-offend?
A lack of transportation may explain some instances of driving under influence of alcohol. However, it’s also possible that repeat offenders are functional alcoholics. A functional alcoholic is someone who is addicted to alcohol but is determined to make it seem as if nothing is wrong.
Over time, functional alcoholics may actually begin to believe that they don’t have a problem and that there is nothing wrong with having a couple of drinks before driving to work or other destinations. Regardless of your ability to function after consuming alcohol, this may be a sign that you need to enter a rehab program. If you know someone who routinely drives after consuming alcohol, it may be a good idea to learn more about how that person can get help.
Did You Violate Your State’s Implied Consent Law?
When you receive your driver’s license, you agree to submit to blood, urine or other chemical tests if asked to do so by authorities. If you refuse to comply with such a request, your license will likely be suspended for a period of at least 30 days. This is generally true even if you are eventually cleared of a DUI charge. It’s also worth noting that authorities may be able to compel you to give a blood, breath or urine sample depending on what officers observe upon making contact.
It May Be Harder to Find Work or Housing After a DUI Conviction
If you don’t have a valid license, it may be difficult to find a job that requires you to transport goods or requires you to drive to various job sites. Even if an employer doesn’t require a valid license, the lack of reliable transportation may limit your employment opportunities.
Landlords may be hesitant to rent to those who have criminal records, and your quest to obtain a mortgage may be hampered by the fact that you don’t have access to steady employment. It may also be harder to obtain access to rent or mortgage assistance programs if you have a criminal record.
Consuming alcohol can have a serious impact on your physical and mental health even if you refrain from driving while under its influence. If you believe that you have a poor relationship with beer or liquor, it’s important to know that help is available. The folks at Long Island Interventions are trained professionals who are ready to help you start your journey to sobriety right now.