How Much Alcohol Does It Take to Impair Driving?

Everyone knows that it’s not safe to drink and drive. Yet, countless people do it anyway, believing that they didn’t consume enough alcohol to impair their ability to drive safely. This raises the question: How much alcohol can you safely consume before your ability to drive safely is jeopardized?

A Look at BAC Levels

Blood alcohol content (BAC) is the percentage of alcohol in the bloodstream. For the purposes of enforcing DUI/DWI laws, a person is considered legally intoxicated if they have a BAC of 0.08% or higher. However, it’s important to note that people suffer from alcohol-related impairments at BAC levels much lower than this. In addition, people who are intoxicated believe that they are less impaired than they really are. This means that you are not a good judge of whether you are fit to drive.

The Severity of Impairment

Scientific research reveals that individuals with BAC levels far below the legal limit are extremely likely to be involved in car accidents. Even when slightly intoxicated, drivers are less likely to use their seatbelts, more likely to drive too fast, and less able to judge distance and speed. In other words, there is no “safe” amount of alcohol to drink before driving. A person is more likely to get into an accident even after consuming just one drink. Essentially, buzzed driving is the same as drunk driving.

The Duration of Impairment

When you consume alcohol, it enters your digestive system. From there, it enters the bloodstream, where it's carried to your brain. Eventually, the alcohol enters the liver for removal from the body. As a general rule of thumb, the body can remove 20 milligrams per deciliter of alcohol per hour. In reality, however, everyone processes alcohol at different rates due to differences in age, weight, health, and medications. Err on the side of caution and assume that you’re too impaired to drive, even if you only had one drink an hour ago.

The experienced tow truck drivers of Barnett’s Towing, LLC would like to encourage drivers to designate a sober driver or call a cab. However, if you do end up in an accident or if your car breaks down, you can count on our team to recover your vehicle from anywhere in Arizona. Give us a call at (800) 722-2302 any time of the day or night.