Driving under the influence of alcohol poses many dangers, including:
- Impaired judgment and decision-making: Alcohol impairs cognitive function, making it difficult for drivers to make safe decisions. This can result in reckless behavior, such as speeding, running red lights, or making dangerous maneuvers.
- Reduced reaction time: Alcohol affects the central nervous system, which slows down reflexes and reaction time. A delayed response can prevent drivers from avoiding hazards.
- Decreased coordination: Alcohol affects motor skills and coordination, making it difficult for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles. This lack of control increases the risk of swerving or veering into other lanes.
- Impaired depth perception: Impaired depth perception makes it harder for drivers to accurately judge the speed and distance of other vehicles.
- Impaired hand-eye coordination: A lack of hand-eye coordination increases the likelihood of a collision. Drivers may have difficulty steering, braking, or staying in their lanes.
- Memory loss: Impaired drivers may forget essential information such as traffic signs, traffic rules, and even the route to their destinations.
- Increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel: Alcohol acts as a depressant, which can induce drowsiness and the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
What is considered alcohol-impaired driving?
In most states, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher. At this BAC level, a driver is noticeably impaired. However, it’s legal for drivers over the age of 21 to drive with BAC levels below 0.08. Only Utah has a BAC limit of 0.05%.
At legal levels, alcohol can still impair a driver’s coordination, visual function, response time, and alertness. This is often considered “buzzed driving.” Despite being legal in most states, it still increases the risk of a crash.