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Surprising Facts About Drinking, Drugs, and Driving

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Like most people, you probably know it’s not a good idea to get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you’re so drunk you can barely stand. It’s a little more difficult to decide you shouldn’t drive if you’ve had just a few drinks or you’ve used recreational or prescription drugs.

Hopefully, the answers to these questions about driving under the influence will make your choice much easier. These facts should make you think twice before getting behind the wheel.

Drinking and Driving

How much alcohol is too much alcohol when it comes to driving?

In many states, you can be charged with drunk driving if your blood alcohol level is 0.08% or higher. You may reach the legal limit after consuming just a few drinks in an hour or two, depending on your weight, sex, and other factors. Generally, men can drink more than women before becoming legally intoxicated.

It doesn’t take much alcohol to reach the legal limit. One drink is 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of liquor, or 5 ounces of wine. That means you can easily be consuming more than you think when there is more than that amount of alcohol in a single glass.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 40% of accidents that resulted in deaths involve alcohol or drugs. Most drivers who caused these accidents wrongly believed that their driving abilities weren’t impaired by drinking or drugs. Unfortunately, they were wrong.

Do some people tend to drive under the influence more than others?

A 2018 national survey revealed that 20.5 million people ages 16 and older drove under the influence of alcohol, and 12.6 million were impaired by illicit drugs. The survey noted that impaired driving occurred more often in young adults ages 21 to 25.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse also found that men drive impaired more often than women.

If you’re just a little buzzed, is it okay to get behind the wheel?

Although you may think that driving won’t be a problem if you’re just a little buzzed, your perception might not match reality. You can still be affected by alcohol and drugs, even if you’re under the legal limit.

Drinking or using drugs can:

These can all make it unsafe to drive. That’s why even if you didn’t drink enough to reach the legal limit, you still shouldn’t get behind the wheel. Buzzed driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.

Drugs and Driving

Drugs can also be a recipe for disaster when combined with driving. And it’s not just illegal drugs that are to blame – over-the-counter and prescription drugs may also influence your ability to drive safely.

Dealing with Addiction?

You may attempt to stop using drugs but struggle despite the physical, emotional, and social harm.

Prescription and OTC Drugs

Sleep medicine, cough medicine, tranquilizers, narcotic pain medication, antihistamines, and decongestants may affect your ability to drive safely, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). Don’t drive if the label of a prescription or over-the-counter drug indicates that you shouldn’t operate heavy machinery.


Although marijuana is now legal in some states, it can still impair your driving ability, so you shouldn’t drive when under the influence.

The U.S. Department of Justice notes that after alcohol, marijuana is the substance most often found in the blood of drivers who have been in accidents. At this time, there is no test to measure how much marijuana is too much.

Illegal Drugs 

Just about all drugs affect reaction time and vision. Cocaine, heroin, and other drugs impair your judgment, make you drowsy and alter your ability to react quickly.

Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid a tragic accident that could kill you, your friends, your family, or total strangers by avoiding driving if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you’ve taken drugs or had too much to drink, ask a friend for a ride or call a ride-sharing service.

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