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Did you know that to reach the legal limit for drunk driving in all 50 states of .08 blood alcohol concentration, it only takes 2 drinks for a 120-pound female and about 4 drinks for a 180 pound male?  That is 4 beers, or 3 beers and 1 shot, or 2 beers and 2 5-ounce glasses of wine.  It’s a myth that beer or wine have “less” alcohol content than a standard cocktail, it all adds up to the same amount of alcohol no matter how you pair it.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2013 close to 11,000 people were killed in car crashes and 290,000 were injured.   So when you see increased law enforcement presence around nightclubs, bars or on the freeways during holiday weekends, this is why. 

State Justice Department statistics show that in 2013 the following 6 states had the highest numbers of DUI arrests:

1.  California = 214,828

2.  Texas = 90,066

3.  Florida = 61,852

4.  North Carolina = 49,599

5.  Wisconsin = 40,549

6.  Arizona = 39,746

It’s important to remember that although you may feel more energized and upbeat, alcohol actually slows down the activity of your central nervous system and brain making you unsafe to be behind the wheel.  Even if you drink a lot of coffee and think you are maintaining total concentration, you have reduced reaction time, impaired eye muscle function and visual perception, slowed processing of sensory information and increased difficulty in doing multiple tasks (like watching for pedestrians, observing traffic flow and staying in your lane).  The effects of the alcohol also contribute to poor judgment calls, increased risk taking and an overconfidence that often translates to unnecessary speed and lane changes.

Many of us think that we can go out for a night of partying and then walk over in the cold, fresh air of the night to the local Starbucks for a latte to sober up before driving home safely.   In actuality, the truth is that your blood alcohol level can continue to rise for the 3 hours after your last cocktail. 

So why do people still continue to drink and drive?  Alcohol affects different people differently.  Some feel like they aren’t as drunk as they really are, or they irrationally feel like they can overcompensate for lack of coordination if they focus, or they are just too embarrassed to ask anyone to give them a ride.  We’ve all had this feeling at one time or another.  However, the repercussions of drunk driving far override one night of feeling ashamed or facing inconvenience.  Aside from hurting yourself or others in an accident, if you are caught for a DUI, you will have a number of hurdles to face.  There will be jail time, fines, attorney fees, court appearances, and possible community service and alcohol education classes.  It can hurt your career if you have a job in the transportation industry, sales or any kind of law enforcement.  Don’t tell yourself just one more time; it’s just not worth it.