Labor Day weekend is only days away, and Long Island police departments are already on the prowl to catch drunk drivers in the act. Suffolk County police arrested eight motorists for impaired driving at a sobriety checkpoint in Huntington Station this past weekend as a part of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) campaign, “Saturation Saturday.” According to Newsday, this safety initiative is conducted annually on the Saturday before the upcoming holiday weekend to encourage motorists to drive sober by threatening hefty penalties.
The drastic increase in drunk drivers on the road makes Labor Day one of the deadliest holidays of the year for car accidents. In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 376 traffic fatalities over this holiday weekend- 36 percent of these accidents involved a drunk driver.
Law enforcement officers nationwide, including on Long Island, have joined organizations such as the N.H.T.S.A. in initiating a high-visibility enforcement campaign spanning from August 14 through September 2. The increased presence of officers on the road aims to reduce the number of drivers who drink and drive, and to spread awareness on the dangers alcohol can have on someone’s driving abilities.
One Drink Could Be One Too Many
Drunk driving takes the lives of over 10,000 Americans every year. Alcohol can impact a driver’s judgment, vision, color distinction, and reaction time; all factors which can lead to increased traffic accidents. Drunk driving accidents are entirely preventable, and it doesn’t take a large amount of alcohol for them to occur.
Most drivers who choose to drink and drive give excuses such as “I only had one drink,” or “I feel fine.” The fact of the matter is that one drink does not make someone immune to the risks of intoxicated driving. A driver’s level of intoxication is based on several different factors which can all vary depending on the circumstances under which the drink was consumed.
The Student Well-Being McDonald Center at the University of Notre Dame describes these as the most significant factors that can affect someones intoxication level and Blood Alcohol Content (B.A.C.), even from just one alcoholic beverage:
Rate of Consumption
Choosing to down multiple alcoholic drinks quickly because you have to drive later will always backfire. The quicker you consume an alcoholic beverage, the faster your B.A.C. will rise.
Type of Drink
One beer is not equivalent to one glass of hard liquor. Different types of alcohol have varying levels of alcohol content. Consuming stronger drinks will result in a higher B.A.C. High alcohol content drinks are also absorbed slower, which may delay the feeling of intoxication leading someone to drink more than they should.
Size of Drink
One drink of alcohol can vary greatly depending on how much is in your glass. One 12 ounce beer, one 4 to 5 ounce glass of wine, and one 10 ounce wine cooler all have the same alcohol content. Considering most people are not measuring how much alcohol they pour into their glass, it can be easy to consume more alcohol in one drink than intended.
Surprisingly, your mood can play a significant role in how intoxicated you become. If someone is experiencing depression, anxiety, or anger prior to drinking alcohol, the enzymes in their stomach will change the way their body reacts to processing the alcohol. Researchers found mood begins to deteriorate when B.A.C. is about .07, regardless of how happy you were when you started drinking.
Drinking alcohol before you eat is a recipe for disaster. Someone who consumes alcohol on an empty stomach as opposed to a full stomach will become intoxicated much quicker.
Having a high tolerance for consuming alcohol does not mean you can still drive. Someone who does not experience as many effects from alcohol may still have a B.A.C. over the legal limit, and make decisions on the road they might not have if sober.
Drinking while you are ill or in recovery from an illness can result in a higher B.A.C. and the feeling that you are more intoxicated after fewer drinks. This occurs because the body is typically dehydrated after being sick, which increases the effects of alcohol.
Adverse reactions to medications when drinking is more common than you might think. Mixing medications with alcohol is deadly on its own, but it can have serious consequences for an individual who is unaware before getting behind the wheel. Certain medications can cause the effects of alcohol to skyrocket after only one drink. Even some herbal medications can have adverse reactions when mixed with alcohol.
Consuming alcohol can cause you to feel fatigued, but drinking when you are already fatigued can intensify the effects of alcohol immensely. When someone is fatigued, their liver is less efficient and processes alcohol much slower, resulting in an abnormally high B.A.C.
The amount you weigh can determine how many drinks it takes for you to become intoxicated. Someone who weighs 185 pounds could have a B.A.C. of 0.025 after consuming two drinks in an hour, while their 130-pound friend could have a .053 B.A.C. after the same type and amount of alcohol in the same timeframe.
The bottom line is there is no situation where driving after you consume alcohol is safe. There is no special math equation that can help you determine how many drinks you can have before you are too drunk to drive. Drinking any amount of alcohol is not worth getting behind the wheel or causing an accident that could alter someone’s life forever.
Know The Signs
Preventing drunk driving accidents starts with keeping drivers who are intoxicated off the road. When someone has been drinking, they have lost the ability for you to rely on their judgment. Being able to recognize the signs of a drunk driver can help you stop friends and family from getting behind the wheel and making a grave mistake they cannot take back.
According to Healthline, here are the signs to look for that could indicate someone is feeling the early effects of alcohol:
- They appear to be more confident and talkative than usual.
- They have a shorter than normal attention span.
- They appear to be taking more risks.
- Their motor responses are slowed.
- Their reaction time is slowed.
- They are highly emotional and easily excited or saddened.
- They appear to be tired or drowsy.
- They are rubbing their eyes.
- They are having trouble standing or walking.
- They are having trouble feeling pain.
Some of these early signs of intoxication may not seem like much, but they could indicate a major impairment on the road. Don’t take a chance this Labor Day. Drive sober or don’t drive at all, and encourage your loved ones to do the same.
New York City and Long Island Accident Attorneys
Drunk driving is unacceptable, preventable, and against the law. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to the negligence of a drunk driver, our team at Siler & Ingber are here to help. With a 98% success rate, we have the experience and the know-how to help our clients achieve a favorable outcome. Contact us today at 1-877-529-4343, or schedule an appointment online anytime. We never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.