Drinking before you drive isn’t just illegal. It is also incredibly risky. You could fall asleep at the wheel or cause a crash that hurts you or someone else. You likely know that you shouldn’t try to drive after overindulging at a late-night party, but you might overlook other activities that increase your risk of causing a crash after drinking.
Unless you are a teetotaler, meaning you don’t consume alcohol at all, you may occasionally need to get yourself home after enjoying a few drinks with friends or a glass of wine with your dinner. Certain decisions you make when otherwise responsibly enjoying an alcoholic beverage could increase your risk of getting pulled over for a drunk driving offense.
Drinking when you haven’t eaten in hours
Having solid food in your stomach when you consume alcohol helps increase your tolerance. The food serves as a buffer so your body doesn’t immediately metabolize the alcohol. It also reduces the total impact the alcohol will have on your cognition and motor function.
The longer you have gone without eating, the bigger the impact a drink or two may have on your ability to safely drive and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
If you ordered a mixed drink at happy hour and then got an emergency text message from your spouse, you might choose to drink your beverage as quickly as possible and head back home. After all, you don’t want to waste the money you already spent on the drink.
However, drinking rapidly as opposed to slowly sipping alcohol can reduce your body’s ability to metabolize that alcohol efficiently. Your BAC may increase significantly right after you drink rapidly, meaning that you could start feeling impaired while you are halfway home from the bar.
If you usually enjoy a summer pilsner at your local brewery and go for a double-hopped, hazy IPA this time, you could have a beer that contains twice the amount of as your typical preferred beverage does. You may find yourself overestimating your tolerance and consuming more than you should before driving.
Switching from beer to liquor or wine to beer can cause similar issues. Different volumes of different kinds of alcohol include the same amount of alcohol, so switching your beverage of choice and then driving afterward might mean you have a higher BAC than you expect.
Identifying behaviors that put you at risk of drunk driving charges will help you follow the law and focus on safety every time you drive.