|Well, there's a sobering thought for you. Were you listening? In spite of the fact that we're constantly being warned about the dangers of drinking and driving, some people persist in this destructive behavior.|
|As you all know, a drug is any substance, prescribed or otherwise, legal or illegal, ingested or injected, in expectation of achieving a more desirable physical or mental state. Drug use means taking any drug in any amount under any circumstance, and a drug user is anyone who uses drugs for any reason. And if you don't already know, alcohol is considered a drug.|
|Legal intoxication means:|
· A blood Alcohol Level of .08%
· Not having normal use of mental and physical faculties
|Alcohol-related traffic crashes are those in which ethyl alcohol was found to be present in one or more of the drivers involved. (That's not rubbing alcohol.)|
|Legally intoxicated means having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent, or not having normal use of mental and physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, or combination of two or more of these substances into the body.|
DWI--Driving While Intoxicated
|DWI is used as the abbreviation for Driving While Intoxicated. This acronym, when associated with the task of driving, spells only one word: TROUBLE.|
Another acronym, BAC, stands for Blood Alcohol Concentration. It is a test of blood, breath, or urine used to measure the percentage of alcohol found in the bloodstream.
|PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL|
|Alcohol has serious physiological effects on drivers. Physical fitness is a major aspect of being a safe driver. The use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs pose a serious health problem that can severely impair a person's ability to properly perform driving task.|
|You can be convicted of "driving while intoxicated" with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08 percent.|
|Also, in Texas, the "Zero Tolerance" Law makes it illegal for a minor to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system. Fines, community service, alcohol awareness programs, and loss of driving privileges are some of the possible consequences of breaking this law.|
|In general, BAC and the accompanying impairment of essential bodily functions depends primarily on a person's size and the amount of alcohol ingested in a given period of time.|
Loss of driving ability and the accompanying probability of a traffic collision dramatically increase as a person's BAC increases.
Use of any drug may adversely affect driving ability. So, avoid them at all costs while driving.
|Never take more than one drug at a time.|
Taking more than one drug at a time is particularly dangerous since each can add significantly to the effect of the other, especially when one of the drugs is alcohol.
|Let's look a little closer at what happens when you drink alcohol...and what the physiological effects are.|
|Larger people have a greater volume of blood than smaller people and will generally acquire a lower "BAC" from a given quantity of alcohol.|
However, additional body weight in the form of fat is not helpful, as alcohol
will not dissolve in fatty tissue.
|The more alcohol a given drink contains and the more drinks a person consumes in a given period of time, the higher BAC it will produce.|
|A larger serving will usually contain more alcohol and produce a higher "BAC" than smaller ones.|
|All other factors being equal, the shorter the time period in which drinking occurs, the higher one's BAC will be. Conversely, the longer period of time after drinking, the lower the BAC becomes. In layman's terms, all of this boils down to one thing: the more you drink the more drunk you'll get.|
AMOUNT OF FOOD INGESTED
|Although no food will absorb or neutralize alcohol, it may initially coat the stomach lining and slow absorption somewhat. However, this situation is only temporary.|
|After you've had a drink or two, you'll begin to feel the effects. The decision is up to you. Are you too drunk to drive? Only you can decide, but your judgment has been impaired by the alcohol. Are you really capable of deciding if you can safely drive at this point?|
You may never know.
|WHAT IS IMPAIRED BY ALCOHOL?|
|Would you want to be on an airplane flown by a pilot in your condition? Or have a surgeon operate on you after he'd had five drinks?|
You wouldn't? Then why would you let yourself get behind the wheel of a car, especially when your vision is affected?
|About 90 percent of what a driver identifies in a traffic scene is through the sense of vision. |
HIGH BAC IMPAIRS:
· VISUAL ACUITY
· DEPTH PERCEPTION
· PERIPHERAL VISION
· COLOR RECOGNITION
· NIGHT VISION
|Levels of alcohol as low as .03 percent BAC can lessen one's muscular control by relaxing the fine eye muscles and adversely affecting visual acuity, depth perception, peripheral vision, color recognition, and night vision.|
ALCOHOL IMPAIRS MENTAL FUNCTIONS
|The ability to foresee or anticipate what is likely to happen depends on one's ability to accurately process the information previously identified. |
Alcohol impairs these mental functions.
ALCOHOL IMPAIRS DECISION MAKING
|As with anticipation, the decision phase involves the brain and thinking process. Experimentation has shown that levels as low as .045 percent BAC reduce these abilities up to 15 percent. Of particular concern is the willingness of a driver to take greater risks after drinking. Alcohol tends to produce more uninhibited and aggressive behavior, and thus, poor driving decisions.|
ALCOHOL IMPAIRS MOTOR SKILLS
|While alcohol affects a driver's judgment and thinking first, it will gradually impair motor skills and muscle coordination necessary for maintaining vehicle control.|
|The psychological effects of alcohol include:|
· Enhanced aggression
· Impaired emotional control
· Impaired concentration
· Impaired memory
ALCOHOL HAS PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS
|Alcohol also has some serious psychological effects that can cause abnormal behavior. Alcohol is a depressant that easily qualifies as a mind-altering drug. Remember that anger and aggressive driving behavior we talked about earlier? Well, nothing can bring it out like alcohol...|
ALCOHOL ENHANCES AGGRESSION
|...especially in males in a competitive situation.|
ALCOHOL IMPAIRS EMOTIONAL CONTROL
|Also, emotional control tends to be lost as more alcohol is consumed... |
...and the ability to concentrate, especially on several sources of incoming information, is diminished.
ALCOHOL IMPAIRS MEMORY
|The inability to store and retain information has been found to occur with a BAC as low as .03 percent.|
|Especially in the early stages of intoxication, some people learn to compensate by developing coping mechanisms, which mask the effects of alcohol, such as not participating in those activities that might reveal their impairment.|
|Unfortunately, too many people still participate in driving after they have been drinking.|