According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 42,000 + people died because of car crashes in 2020 which is up from 39,107 people killed in 2019. It may not surprise you that speeding is the number one cause of fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States. However, the second leading cause of fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States is due to alcohol and/or drug impaired drivers. Drug impaired driving is more prevalent between 9 AM – 9 PM while alcohol impaired driving is more prevalent between 9 PM – 9 AM.
Most people know that driving with a .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) is illegal in every state in the US, and will likely result in a Driving While Intoxicated arrest. The common question is…..How many drinks can a person consume before they are intoxicated? There are many variables that play a role when attempting to answer that question, so we will provide some basic information.
A standard drink is considered to be one 12-ounce domestic beer, or one shot of 80 proof liquor, or one 5 ounce pour of table wine. One consumed standard drink will result in approximately a .02 BAC once the alcohol enters your bloodstream. If you are drinking micro-brews that contain a higher alcohol content, or mixed drinks containing multiple shots of liquor, then only having one drink would result in a higher than .02 BAC. (Example: A Long Island iced tea contains five shots of liquor and would result in approximatly a .10 BAC after only consuming one.) Alcohol needs to be absorbed into your bloodstream before impairment occurs. Twenty percent of absorption occurs in the stomach and 80 percent of absorption occurs in the small intestines. On an empty stomach, one drink will be 50% absorbed in 30 minutes, 90% absorbed in 60 minutes, and about 100% absorbed in 90 minutes. If you eat before you start drinking, you can double the time it takes for the alcohol to absorb into your bloodstream. Therefore, if you want to socialize, you should eat before consuming alcoholic beverages which will help slow down absorption rates. The human body metabolizes approximately three quarters of a standard drink per hour. Some persons metabolize more, and some persons metabolize less. Body mass and water content effect a person’s BAC. The average male is 68% water, and the average female is 55% water. As a result, if a male and female with identical body mass consumed the same amount of alcoholic beverage, the female would generally have a slightly higher BAC than the male. Tolerance determines how a person functions with a specific drug in their system and will not affect the blood alcohol content.
Bottom line……. Alcohol initially effects our decision making and inhibitions, so people tend to exhibit poor judgment and take unnecessary risks after consuming alcoholic beverages. Have a plan BEFORE you start drinking alcoholic beverages so you don’t drink and drive.
The average cost of a DWI conviction is $10,000.00, so think before you drink.
A person operating a motor vehicle can be arrested for Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs (DWAI Drugs) if they exhibit impairment and alcohol and/or a medical condition are ruled out as the impairing factor(s). It doesn’t matter if the drug causing the impairment is legal, illegal, prescription, or over the counter.
There are seven different drug categories, and each category has its own signs and indicators of impairment with some signs and indicators overlapping between categories. With the recent legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in NY, we can expect an increase in the number of drug impaired related crashes. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis and is responsible for causing impairment. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another compound found in cannabis, but CBD does not cause impairment. The method of ingestion and the potency of the THC ingested will determine the duration and the intensity of the “high” felt by the user. The issue is the user will still have their depth perception and judgement impaired even after the “high” has worn off.
Opioids are a common drug of abuse and are responsible for two-thirds of all drug related overdose deaths in the US. Provisional data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicate that there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the US during the 12-month period ending in April 2021. Opioids will slow a person’s internal clock which means a driver impaired by an opioid will have a slower reaction time which will increase the likelihood of being involved in a crash.
A DWAI drug arrest is the equivalent of a DWI arrest as both are misdemeanors for the first offense. A second arrest for DWI or DWAI drugs within 10 years of a previous conviction will be charged as a felony.
The average cost of a DWAI drug conviction is $10,000.00.
For more information on drug and/or alcohol related training, visit our “Training and Services” page.