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How can alcohol affect driving ability?

Some people may talk themselves into having just a couple of drinks before driving off onto a Florida road, thinking they will be fine behind the wheel. However, the truth is that it does not take much alcohol consumption to start impairing your ability to drive. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, 2,017 people died in drunk driving related accidents where the driver had just a low concentration of alcohol.

At a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of just .02, your ability to quickly track moving targets is degraded. You also lose the ability to carry out two tasks at once, meaning dividing your attention from the road to something else, like conversing with a passenger or using the radio, can harm your ability to concentrate adequately on the road. At a slightly higher BAC of .05, you have added trouble steering and may not respond quickly enough to emergencies that arise while driving.

Driving impairments continue to worsen as more alcohol is consumed. People with a BAC of .08 will likely suffer from poor muscle coordination, which harms one’s speech, vision, balance, hearing and ability to react. This makes it harder to concentrate while driving, control brakes and gas pedals, and reduce your ability to process information and perceive the world around you. You may also experience short term memory impairment, meaning it is hard to remember what you have just recently done, said, or experienced.

By the time your alcohol blood content reaches .10 and higher, your ability to drive is even more imperiled. People with a .10 may not be able to keep their vehicle within a driving lane, or be able to brake their automobile when needed. At a .15 BAC, you may experience vomiting, depending on your tolerance for alcohol. A major loss of balance can also take place. At this level, a person’s ability to maintain control over a vehicle is greatly diminished, as it becomes very hard to pay attention to driving or to process needed auditory and visual stimulus to understand how to navigate the road.

This article is intended to educate readers on how alcohol affects driving ability and should not be taken as legal advice.


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