Driving under the influence of alcohol continues to take thousands of innocent lives each year in automobile crashes and, unfortunately, the holidays are a time where drunk driving fatalities surge. A report issued by the National Highway Traffic Security Administration (NHTSA), revealed that 10,497 fatalities were linked to impaired driving in 2016. Further, statistics show that during Christmas and New Year’s, the number of fatalities due to alcohol-related crashes were two to three times higher during comparable timeframes throughout the year.
With the holiday season in full swing, people all over the city will be toasting wine glasses at work or family celebrations or ringing in the New Year with sparkling champagne. Statistics show that half of all family holiday parties contain alcohol, and that 22 percent of adults have felt pressure to drink at work holiday parties. Add the frenzy of holiday shopping and you’ve got a risky combination on the roadways.
What is Considered Impaired?
When a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher, it’s considered legally impaired in the U.S. BAC can be measured as early as 15 minutes after consuming a drink and according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA), a standard drink is any drink that contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol (about 0.6 fluid ounces or 1.2 tablespoons). This chart breaks down the alcohol content for beer, wine, malt liquors and distilled spirits.
What Driving Impaired Looks Like
Alcohol acts as a depressant, impacting the central nervous system by slowing down normal functions like cognitive skills and hand-eye coordination. The more alcohol consumed, the more impaired the driver’s judgment and reaction time, making seemingly normal stops and turns more difficult. And although most resources suggest you metabolize one drink per hour, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Many factors affect this suggestion, including body weight, drinking on an empty stomach, and gender (women absorb alcohol differently than men). Regardless of the current legal limit for driving, if law enforcement thinks someone is “noticeably impaired,” or if they are under 21 or have children in the car, they can still be subject to a DUI.
As always, if you suspect that someone is impaired and about to drive, make every effort to get them home safely by giving them a ride or calling a local designated driver resource. JourneyPure Bowling Green is always here to help you or a family member with treatment for substance abuse. Contact us today for more information about residential or outpatient treatment in Bowling Green, KY.
Chris Clancy is the in-house Content Manager for JourneyPure’s Digital Marketing team, where he gets to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and researcher, with strong working knowledge of hospital systems, health insurance, content strategy, and public relations. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.