Just a Drink or Two

It’s expressly written in the Declaration of Independence that everyone is entitled to, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” If this is the case, why is “buzzed driving” considered drunk driving?

Generating A Lot of Buzz

It stands to reason, that although the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day, already has passed, major holidays still lend itself to considerable amounts of drinking, Independence Day and Labor Day.

Are you a drinker? Whether to unwind from a long day or because it’s considered socially acceptable, people drink for a variety of different reasons. Some believe only hard-core drinking can lead to accidents and fatalities, even. But, buzzed driving, driving that commonly is classified as a state of pleasant intoxication, also is very dangerous.

We all know that co-worker, friend or family member, who after a drink or two, instantly becomes the ‘life of the party.’ Add driving to the mix and you have a potential for disaster. Driving and alcohol just are not a good combination, for more reasons than can be counted on one hand. But, contrary to what some may believe, buzzed driving and drunk driving actually are one in the same.

Why? Even after one drink, depending on the level of alcohol, your judgment can become drastically impaired. No matter how you slice it, alcohol is a depressant that affects vision, reaction time, coordination and judgment, too.

Everybody’s Problem

Why are so many opposed to drunk driving? Drunk driving continues to be one of the most frequently committed crimes in the U.S. With that, drunk driving claims the life of someone in America every 41 minutes. This means roughly 40 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused by an impaired driver.

Check out this statistic: In 2005, nearly 15,000 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or a motorcycle driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. And, alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes cost more than $37 billion alone, on a yearly basis.

On High Alert

Long gone are the days when one freely can just drink and drive, without possibly being apprehended by cops. There are various sobriety checkpoints or traffic stops where law enforcement officers assess drivers’ level of alcohol impairment. These checkpoints are helpful because they consistently reduce alcohol-related crashes, by roughly 9 percent.

Ever heard of ignition interlocks? These devices are installed in the vehicles of people who have been convicted of driving while under the influence. They are said to prevent operation of the vehicle by anyone with a blood alcohol concentration above a specified safe level (typically 0.02% – 0.04%). When installed, these interlocks are linked to a 70 percent reduction in arrest rates for impaired driving.

Major Organizations Stepping-In

Would you believe studies show some buzzed drivers view “drunk drivers” as bad people? According to Progressive, a number of factors go into determining if a person is drunk. These factors include alcohol being consumed, weight, gender and over which time frame the alcoholic beverage was drank.

Overall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determines standards for drunk driving and maintains that, “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.” The organization also points out that drunk driving often is a symptom of a much larger problem: alcohol abuse and misuse.

Also from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration comes a program from August 16 to September 2, 2013, in which thousands of law enforcement officers, State and local safety advocates will join forces, instituting a nationwide drunk driving crackdown; “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” The intended purpose of this program is for officials to make themselves more visible to the public. Studies show that highly visible enforcement can reduce drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. Therefore, aggressive and active support will make a huge difference in saving lives on local roadways.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is doing its part to encourage individuals not to drive while impaired by instituting a pledge. Under the pledge, individuals vow to:

  • Always plan ahead with a non-drinking designated driver before drinking alcohol;
  • Report any suspected drunk drivers they see on the roadways;
  • Never get in the car with someone who has been drinking.
Always plan ahead with a non-drinking designated driver before drinking alcohol – See more at: http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/renew-your-commitment-to.html#sthash.T2BDUEZY.dpuf
Mothers Against Drunk Driving

The Ad Council is infamous for being instrumental in its plight to curb drunk driving. This can best be seen in the firm’s “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” campaign, which first caught-on more than 20 years’ ago. The focal point of this campaign was to encourage safety on the roads. And, because of the impact of this PSA campaign, more than two-thirds of Americans (68%) say they have tried to stop someone from driving, while under the influence. The campaign had a marked influence on the public, in that crashes drastically plummeted, reaching a low point in the later part of the 1990s.

“Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.”

No Winners In This Situation

Not for nothing, there are no winners in the game of drinking and driving, just losers. Many feel that because they personally have not had any run-ins with the law, buzzed driving will not/does not affect them.

The consequences of driving while drunk can be quite sobering and possibly may lead to jail time. Not to mention the emotional toll that can take place.

Still need convincing? Here’s how a DUI can affect your life:

* You can be ordered to pay a very costly traffic ticket;

* Your current job may be lost, leaving no way to pay DUI costs;

* Your driving privileges may be suspended and/or revoked;

* Higher insurance rates may be charged;

* You may be sued and have to appear in court, resulting in high legal fees;

* Damage may be done to property, with reimbursement ordered;

* A loved one may be killed, as a result of negligence;

* Serious personal injury can be sustained;

* You may experience a lifetime of guilt;

* You can be arrested and charged as a felon;

* You may be barred from certain educational institutions, such as a college or university because of a felony record;

* An innocent driver can be killed;

* You may not be able to attain gainful employment because of a felony conviction;

* You may lose your future and the respect of your family and friends.

One Drink Too Many

A lot is at stake when driving while drunk. If while at a friend’s house, they insist upon taking your car keys, after they feel you’ve reached your limit, let them. Or plan to have a designated driver bring you to your doorstep. If you’re at a bar and have had one too many, ask the bartender to call you a cab.

The time to prepare for a buzzed driving accident is now, not when it happens. Know the laws in your area and what can happen if you break them, while driving drunk. There are so many other aspects to take into consideration while behind the wheel of a vehicle, but luckily, you have complete control over this one. Cheers!

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-Kimberly Williams

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