According to DrinkingandDriving.org, there are approximately 900,000 drunk driving arrests in the United States annually. At the time of writing, no arrest statistics were available for Canada, but MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Canada estimated that at least 1,082 traffic deaths nationwide could be directly attributed to drunk driving.
Blood Alcohol Concentration
Blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, refers to the amount of alcohol by weight that is contained in the blood. Alcohol moves quickly through the body, and is measurable by means of blood or breath testing in as little as 30 minutes following the first drink. It continues rising for approximately an hour following the last drink.
Alcohol’s Effect on the Body
Alcohol interferes with the way people process information, and it has an adverse effect on the central nervous system. People who are impaired by alcohol may display loss of balance, blurred vision, and slurred speech. On average, the body needs about an hour to reduce a person’s BAC by .015.
Taking drugs along with alcohol will not change a person’s BAC, but combining alcohol and drugs can still result in a higher level of impairment. Women typically metabolize alcohol more slowly than men, and may become impaired more quickly and remain so for longer.
Myths About Alcohol
There are so many myths about alcohol! Here are just a five of them:
- You Can Sober Up Fast: Everyone has a theory on how the process of metabolizing alcohol can be sped up (coffee, energy drinks, cold showers, etc.) but the reality is that none of them work. The liver handles almost all of the alcohol (approximately 90%), with the urine, perspiration and breath dispelling the rest.
- Alcohol is a Stimulant: Despite its wonderful way of really getting a party going, alcohol isn’t a stimulant – it’s a depressant that can cause drowsiness, affects reaction time and coordination, and even leads to death when taken in large amounts.
- Some People Know When They’re Too Drunk to Drive: When you drink, your judgment is one of the first things to become impaired. A BAC of just .02, which is below the legal limit, is sufficient to impair your judgment. Even after the first drink, your chance of being in an accident increases.
- You Drive More Carefully After a Drink or Two: This is absolute nonsense. And people who think they’re not giving cues that indicate their impairment (driving too fast or too slowly, weaving, or stopping too far away from stop lights or signs) are often in for a rude awakening when they’re pulled over by the police and asked to perform a field sobriety test.
- If You’re Under the Legal Limit, You Can’t Be Charged: Any BAC reading can result in a charge of impaired driving, in both Canada and the United States.
It’s Not Just the Cops
In both Canada and the United States, your employer can require you to submit to random and regular alcohol tests. In fact, such testing is becoming so common that the opportunities for employment in the field of breath and saliva alcohol testing are growing by leaps and bounds. Specialized courses qualify people to develop within their career, and even set up their own part-time or full-time testing services.