Drunk Driving – Myths, Facts, and Breaking the Law

Although most people don’t realize it, alcohol is a drug. In fact, alcohol is the most commonly found drug in fatally injured motorists. While it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages, many teenagers still do. This becomes even more of a problem when a drinking teen gets behind the wheel. Alcohol education programs have increased in homes, schools, and communities; but alcohol-related collisions are still a major issue. Not only is a drunk driver endangering their own life, but they are putting all the other drivers on the Highway Transit System in jeopardy. It is important to never mix drinking with driving.

Alcohol is derived from the fermentation of fruit, alcohol, and other plants. It is classified as a depressant, a drug that slows down the central nervous system. The effects of alcohol vary from person to person, but everyone is affected to some degree. As a motorist you cannot afford to have your driving skills dulled by alcohol. Some common impairments include: slowed reflexes, lost inhibitions, slurred speech, clumsiness or loss of balance, blurred vision, a decrease in muscle coordination, and distorted depth perception. Drinking alcohol is not something to take lightly.

Alcohol is surrounded by many myths. Some of them deal with how long it takes a drunk person to “sober up.” You may have heard that drinking some black coffee, going for a quick jog, or taking a cold shower will reduce your blood-alcohol concentration. The truth is: These activities may stimulate you for a moment; but do absolutely nothing to reduce the amount of alcohol in your body. Only time will allow your liver to get rid of alcohol. (Up to 1.5 hours for a 12 ounce beer.) While many factors such as the number of drinks consumed, the amount of time they are consumed in, a person’s body weight, and their natural resistance to alcohol will affect how rapidly a person gets drunk, it takes the same amount of time for alcohol to work its way through your system.

Driving drunk is a crime that’s punishable by law. A DUI (Driving Under the Influence), or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in some states, carries severe penalties. These punishments can include: suspension or revocation of the offending motorist’s license, payment of a fine, or even serving a prison term. (Although, penalties are harsher if the intoxicated driver is involved in a collision.) Driving after drinking is always a bad idea. If your friend is considering drinking, you have some responsibilities as a good friend.

You can help by: encouraging them to drink something non-alcoholic, telling them to set limits, convincing them to avoid drinks with high alcoholic concentration, or just doing something else. If they’ve already had a drink, help them by making them aware of their behaviors, providing them with transportation home, or staying with them until the alcohol has worked its way through their system. Remember: “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”

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