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Driving drunk: A danger to yourself and others

Drunk driving is a real problem on the roads in America. Whether it's teens who have had too much to drink secretly or a group of college students trying to drive home after having one too many, driving after drinking can lead to serious consequences. Every day, there are dozens of people killed in drunk driving crashes. Approximately one person dies every 50 minutes, resulting in over 10,000 deaths each year.

In 2018, there were 10,511 deaths caused by drunk driving in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those deaths made up 29% of all deaths from car crashes.

Just using a personal breath test won't save you from a DUI

If you are someone who enjoys alcoholic beverages, whether you enjoy sharing an IPA with your friends after a long day at work or have developed a taste for sipping artisanal whiskeys, you need to make sure you are particularly careful if you get behind the wheel after enjoying one of your favorite drinks.

Knowing when you are safe to drive and when you definitely are not is difficult even in the best circumstances. Our brains have a way of convincing us that the alcohol hasn't affected us as much as it really does. In other words, it's not a very good idea to rely solely on your own analysis of your cognitive state when trying to determine if you are under the influence of alcohol or not.

How alcohol impacts driving at different BAC levels

From your first drink, alcohol can impact your ability to drive. It gets more pronounced the more you have, which is why there is a legal limit of 0.08%. But it can have an impact below that, and it's also important to understand how your ability changes the farther over the limit you go.

Now, everyone is different. Some people handle their alcohol better than others. Those who drink more often may function at a higher level even with a higher BAC. People also reach those higher BAC numbers after different amounts of drinks. For instance, a 250-pound man would not see the same increase as a 90-pound woman after taking a shot.

The legal limit does not protect you from a DUI

People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that the legal limit for a driver's alcohol consumption -- a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08% for most drivers -- can protect them from getting a DUI. It's important to understand that that is not exactly how the law works, despite this common misconception.

For example, imagine that you looked up how much alcohol you could drink in a set period of time without going over the limit. When hitting the bar with your friends, you stuck to that amount. You then hopped in the car to drive home.

Build a defense to try to reduce the impact of a DUI

DUIs are some of the most frustrating charges to face. If you end up with a conviction, they can have lasting consequences for a mistake that you made only a single time.

The consequences of DUIs extend far past fines and possible time in jail or a substance abuse program. They can lead to:

  • Trouble with your job, and potentially being fired from it
  • The need for an expensive ignition interlock device
  • Higher insurance coverage costs
  • Disagreements in your family
  • Trouble paying bills
  • A loss of financial supports at school, like in college

Thanksgiving DUIs can be avoided: Be cautious this year

Thanksgiving is an exciting time of year for many people. There is typically a feast, an afternoon of chatting and getting together with friends, and preparation for the exciting Black Friday morning the following day.

This should be an exciting and positive time of year, but it can all go wrong if you decide to drink and drive. Remember, food can contain alcohol, and your drinks can, too. That means that your blood alcohol content might be higher than you expect.

Your DUI could cost you your job: Defend yourself

When you were pulled over by the police, the first concern you had was the impact a DUI could have on your life. You knew that you had been drinking and that questions would be asked. It was a mistake, but it was too late to go back and change what you did.

It's important to know that a DUI can affect your work, but it doesn't always. Depending on the kind of job you do, the need for a vehicle, your employment contract and other factors, you may or may not lose your job.

Foods containing alcohol can lead to DUIs, too

When you're planning to drink alcohol, you probably also make plans for getting home safely. One of the bigger issues is not knowing that alcohol is contained in something you're eating or drinking. For example, you might think you've picked up nonalcoholic egg nog and later find that you actually purchased the wrong one.

There are many foods and drinks that contain alcohol. Sometimes, it's a small amount. Other times, the alcohol can add up and leave you tipsy, so it's important not to drive if you've ingested them. Here are a few unexpected places that you'll find alcohol in everyday food and drinks.

Watch out for holiday DUIs and keep your driving privileges

With many holidays approaching, now is a great time to sit down and think about how to get from parties or events back home safely. Drinking is a major aspect of Halloween parties, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas parties and New Year's Eve events. With these holidays approaching quickly, you need to have a plan for drinking.

If you drink and get caught, you could be faced with a DUI that has a 10-year look-back period. A first offense is a misdemeanor, a second is a Class C misdemeanor, and a A third is a Class A misdemeanor. These each come with their own penalties, which can be severe.

Teen alcohol use can damage future prospects

The use of alcohol by those under the age of 21 is a bad thing for a few reasons. First, it's illegal. That means that those who are caught face charges related to underage drinking. Another reason is because it can lead to trouble with substance abuse. Third, it can have an immediate impact on their health.

Alcohol abuse is the most common form of substance abuse in teenagers and children. In fact, it is estimated that at least a third of teens have had a single alcoholic drink by the time they reach 15. By 18, at least 60% of teens have had an alcoholic beverage (beyond just a few sips).

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