Alcohol is very prevalent in our culture and media images. This makes drinking and driving is a big problem in the United States that causes significant damage to property, reputations, people and in the worst cases death.
Read on to learn ways to avoid drinking and driving.
Consequences of Drinking and Driving?
If you drive drunk or impaired, there can be legal, financial, professional, and personal, ramifications.
Assuming that no one was injured, you will probably have to forfeit your license for a period of time, but in some cases, you may face mandatory jail time. At a minimum, you should expect community service.
If there are significant damages or loss of life, then you probably face jail time.
Individuals with commercial drivers licenses (CDL’s), may lose their license permanently.
Some employers have requirements where if you are convicted of an offense, like drinking and driving, that you may lose your job. This is especially true for jobs where you drive as part of your employment.
Employers who hire CDL drivers may also be liable for the actions of their driver.
You should expect your insurance to increase after a drunk driving conviction and some insurance companies refuse to pay for injuries associated with a drunk driving accident.
You should also expect fines and costs of mandatory drunk driving awareness training.
There will also be significant legal costs for representing you through the process.
Individuals struggling with addiction often feel out of control in other aspects of their life. Even if they don’t get “caught” drinking, addiction can impact job performance and personal relationships.
Think long and hard, and determine if the risk of a wild night out is worth all of the potential pain.
How Do Drunk Drivers Behave?
It is a good idea to make sure you know what behaviors are common in drunk or impaired drivers. This will help to prevent you from getting in a car with a drunk driver, yourself. If you see an impaired driver, give them plenty of space and contact law enforcement.
Drunk drivers typically make wider than necessary turns and may swerve, weave or drift across the road. In some cases, there are near misses of parked cars, or other objects, drunk drivers then slow down and drive at a very slow speed.
The best way to prevent drinking and driving is to not drink. But if you choose to drink follows these recommendations to keep yourself and others safe.
7 Ways to Avoid Drinking and Driving
Below is a shortlist of ways to avoid the ramifications of drinking and driving.
1. Give Your Keys to Someone Else
If you don’t have keys you can’t drive. Find a trusted friend and give them your keys if you feel tempted to drive after a few cocktails.
Signs that you have had one too many is a change in speech or balance. Individuals with high blood alcohol levels may have a hard time keeping their balance and may run into people or walls.
2. Pace Yourself
There are some online calculators that will give you an idea of how much alcohol you can safely drink. These are not perfect calculations but will give you a starting point. You should also be conscious of how you feel when you drink, as other factors can affect how much you can safely consume.
Most people can metabolize one drink an hour. A drink is considered 12oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1 shot of liquor. It is a good habit to follow each alcoholic drink with water. There are also gender differences in how you metabolize alcohol.
Avoid drinking games if you plan on driving and don’t drink on an empty stomach.
Having food in your stomach slows your body’s ability to absorb the alcohol, being dehydrated does the opposite and speeds up alcohol absorption rate. Mixing your liquor with diet drinks does the same and speeds up alcohol absorption rates.
3. Stop Drinking 90 minutes to 2 Hours BEFORE You Plan to Leave
If you feel pretty confident in your numbers above, consider picking a time in the night to stop drinking and switch to water. Use the power of your phone to set an alarm so you don’t lose track of the time.
Plan ahead and count backward from when you want to leave. Be sure to make sure you are counting the number of drinks you are having while you are out.
If you drink mixed drinks, for example, keep a lemon or lime on your glass for every drink you have consumed.
Note: you will still have alcohol in your system, so you may want to consider a portable breath analyzer to check to make sure you are really ok before you leave.
4. Spend the Night
If you are having a house party, consider spending the night. Some hosts think ahead and set up guest bedrooms or air mattresses. This allows you to have a good time and eliminates the need to drive home.
It also creates a great morning opportunity to recap about the evening’s adventure. This also works if you have a designated driver. Consider having a sleepover at their house after the party has ended.
If you or a friend is blackout drunk, stay away to ensure that you don’t get sick and choke on your own vomit. You can get alcohol poisoning if you are considered about the amount someone has consumed say something or call 911. Always better to be safe than sorry.
5. Pick a Designated Driver
If you are out with friends pick someone to be the Designated Driver (DD). You can spend the night having a great time and know that you will make it home safely.
If you spend time with the same group of people while you enjoy the nightlife, make sure to take turns on who is willing to play DD on any specific night. Some groups even pay for the DD’s appetizers or dinners as a thank you for getting them home safe.
If you DD decides to drink, for whatever reason, find an alternative way home.
6. Take the Night Off
Volunteer to be the DD and stick to it. Think of all the stories you will have on your friends from their drunken antics.
If you begin to feel pressure to drink by the end of the night, order a tonic with a lime in a short glass. It looks like a gin and tonic and typically deflects the “don’t you want to have just one mentality”.
If you are struggling with staying sober when you want to, there are also options.
Why Stopping Drinking Can Be Difficult
Often times drinking is associated with other health issues. If you feel like your drinking is out of control, this may be part of the reason.
This is called a dual – diagnosis. Your alcohol consumptions may be part of a way to mask underlying issues.
It is quite common for individuals with addictions to also have a mental illness, significant life traumas, other health issues. These contribute to your desire to drink-making stopping much harder
Don’t be put off by the thought that there might be 2 issues versus one. This can often relieve the pressure. You want to make sure you seek treatment programs that can help you address all of the issues you face.
7. Find Another Way Home
Depending on where you live, there are options to get home after a night out beside driving.
The cheapest is to call a friend. Have conversations with your friends to see who is willing to pick you up, if you get overserved. Sometimes, local teenagers who can drive, but don’t drink are willing to be your chauffeur for some extra cash.
The bus is the second cheapest option compared to taking the bus or mass transit is to walk, if you are close enough to home.
Uber and Lyft are other great options if you end up drinking more than you planned. Make sure to download the app and set up your payment option before you go out for the night. A cab is another good option, your local bartender can give you a number.
Are You Ready to Make a Change?
If you need help to stop drinking and driving, contact us. We would be happy to help you get the help you need.
If you do decide to drink, don’t drive. there are a lot of other options available to you.