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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.

Why is driving drunk so dangerous?

Driving drunk is dangerous because of the impact of alcohol on your body. When you drink, it lowers your inhibitions. You may not be able to react as quickly and may have impaired muscle coordination.

As you drink more over time, the alcohol levels in your blood and body rise. If you're drinking more than a standard drink per hour (and even sometimes less), the likelihood is that you're getting drunker every minute.

Nationally, the limit on blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is .08%. Some states have lowered this. If you are stopped with a BAC above the state's legal limit, then you can be charged for drunk driving.

Does your BAC have to be over .08% to be affected by alcohol?

No, it doesn't. That's what is so important to realize. Even having your BAC at .02% still causes some changes in your driving behaviors. It's never safe to drink and drive.

Who is more likely to drink and drive, men or women?

Statistics show that in fatal crashes, it was more likely for men to be drunk. In 2018, men were drunk in 21% of fatal crashes, while women were drunk in only 14%.

Drinking can interact with other substances, so be cautious

Remember that drinking can interact with other substances, such as prescription medications. If you are taking antibiotics, anxiety medications or other kinds of medicines, make sure you speak with your medical provider or a pharmacist about how alcohol interacts. Some medications and alcohol cannot be combined, while others have little to no impact on each other. It's important to know, so you can make smart choices about what you take into your body.

Drunk driving has plenty of consequences, so it's always best to drive sober. If you are pulled over, remember your right to remain silent and to reach out to an attorney.

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