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How Bad Is Buzzed Driving?

By Butler Prather LLP on June 25, 2019

The term buzzed driving describes a driver exhibiting signs of impairment from alcohol or opiates while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Referring to impaired driving as buzzed driving tries to reduce the apparent severity of the crime. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 2,597 people died in just the month of December (2010), with 775 deaths involving impaired drivers.

Buzzed driving

Buzzed driving, impaired driving, or driving under the influence, all describe drivers who lack the necessary awareness to avoid accidents.

The signs of alcohol or opiate impairment vary from person to person. How much alcohol, or drugs, it takes to develop a buzz also varies depending on many factors. When they ate last, how quickly they consumed the substance, how much they weigh, their gender, and details about their metabolism all play a role.

After consuming any amount of alcohol or taking opiates, drivers should hesitate to operate a motor vehicle. This is a time to secure a safe and sober ride.

Individuals who partake of alcohol or opiates find several symptoms contribute to what they describe as their buzz.

  • Euphoria
  • Forgetfulness
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Loss of balance
  • Blurred vision
  • Depth perception worsens
  • Poor coordination
  • Staggering
  • Confusion

Each of these symptoms demonstrates impairment, but seldom does one-person experience all of them.

Medical Stages of Alcohol Consumption

The University of Oklahoma Department of Medicine created a chart to show impairment and BAC levels.

  • 01 – 0.05 Subclinical
  • 03 – 0.12 Euphoria
  • 09 – 0.25 Excitement
  • 18 – 0.30 Confusion
  • 25 – 0.40 Stupor
  • 35 – 0.50 Coma
  • 45+ Death

Scientific Research Findings

A recent study at the University of California, San Diego, found startling results. Drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of just 0.01 percent have different driving patterns than sober drivers. These buzzed drivers speed more often, have increased accidents and wear seatbelts less frequently than sober drivers.

  • A BAC of 0.01 percent means drinking the equivalent of only six ounces of beer. That is just half a 12-ounce can. Very few individuals even feel the effects of that small amount of alcohol. Yet, drinking that half can of beer increased the chance of causing an accident 46 percent compared to sober drivers.
  • The 0.08 percent legal limit is simply an arbitrary choice. Researchers found no significant difference in accident risks between buzzed driving at the legal limit of 0.08 percent and 0.07 percent.
  • Inexperienced drivers find alcohol affects them more significantly, even with a BAC of just 0.02 percent. More experienced drivers risk causing accidents at higher rates once their BAC reaches 0.05 or higher.
  • Drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs are still legally responsible as the cause of an accident even when their BAC falls below legal limits.

Fines and Punishments for Driving Under the Influence

Drivers under the age of 21 with a blood alcohol level greater than zero drive illegally. Even one drink for someone underage and they face charges and fines. When convicted of driving under the influence, drivers face up to a year in prison and fines up to $2,500.

Stay Safe While Driving in Georgia

Buzzed drivers face fines, prison time, and cause accidents injuring themselves and others more often than when they drive sober. Avoid buzzed driving to stay safe.

  • Plan ahead to get a ride.
  • Have a fully charged cell phone handy.
  • Stay well hydrated and eat.
  • Alert others to the plan for the event.

Buzzed driving is dangerous. No truly safe level of alcohol or opiate ingestion exists for drivers, especially for those under 21 years old. The responsibility lies with the driver to not get behind the wheel when impaired, but friends do not let friends drive buzzed.

Posted in: Car Accidents

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