How Does Drinking Affect Your Ability to Drive?

driving while intoxicated Springfield

Driving while intoxicated in Springfield is not only a serious crime, but it can become a dangerous situation. When a person consumes alcohol, regardless of the amount and gets behind the wheel they are putting both themselves, as well as other motorway users and pedestrians at risk. Alcohol impacts your mental capabilities first and then moves to your motor skills, fine motor skills, vision, hearing and finally your reaction time. This article discusses how and in what ways alcohol affects your ability to drive, in addition to preventative steps you can take in order to avoid a dangerous situation and getting charged with a Springfield DWI.

How Alcohol Impairs Your Drivingdriving while intoxicated Springfield - man drinking and driving

Any amount of alcohol in the system can impair your driving. According to the University of Texas at San Antonio, the first to go is your judgement, this means your ability for reason and caution are immediately reduced with as little as a .02% BAC. Other ways alcohol impairs your driving abilities are:

    • Concentration – Driving while intoxicated in Springfield impairs a driver’s ability to concentrate on multiple tasks during driving, such as paying attention to other traffic on the road, traffic signals, changing the radio, talking with people in the car, etc. This term is also called divided attention and can impact drivers with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of as little as .005.
  • Perception – Perception, which could also be termed as comprehension for the sake of this article, is a cognitive skill that refers to the driver’s ability to process and interpret signs, situations, and potential hazards. A person’s ability to be able to recognize and interpret information while they’re driving is one of the more important elements of driving in order to stay safe. Perception can be altered with BAC levels as low as .04. An example of this could be something as simple as running a stop sign or not noticing when someone is going through a construction zone and traffic is slowing down.
  • Coordination – A person’s coordination is impaired when drinking, from their fine motor skills to gross motor skills such as walking to the car. Motor skills, and especially coordinating motor skills will start to become an issue at BAC levels of .04 -.05. Loss of coordination can also affect a person’s ability to react, sometimes called reaction time.
  • Reaction Time – According to the Transport Accident Commission, reaction time is defined as the time between the occurrence of an event or appearance of an object and a person’s reaction to it if one is required. Driving while intoxicated in Springfield can reduce your reaction time by 15%-25% resulting in accidents that could have been prevented had alcohol not been involved. Reaction time can become impaired with a BAC of .02 and will consistently be impaired at a BAC of .06 and higher.
  • Vision – Some people will start to have issues with visual acuity (the ability to see clearly) at BACs of .03. Alcohol has been known to reduce visual acuity by 32% in addition to reducing peripheral vision which results in tunnel vision. Additionally, alcohol also impairs depth perception and judgement of distance and has been known to dilate the pupil which is an issue with oncoming traffic headlights. Driving while intoxicated in Springfield while staring at oncoming headlights, can also be referred to as “blind” driving as the driver experiences a glare, thus reducing or eliminating their ability to see at all.
  • Tracking – Tracking or the ability to maintain and control your position in relation to changes in your driving environment can be impaired with as little as .0018 BAC levels and is consistently impaired after .005 BAC. Impaired tracking is what causes serious accidents like head on collisions of people running their vehicles off of the road. This ability needs to be at its highest functioning level in order to perform correctly behind the wheel. Even a small amount of alcohol, as you can see, will impair this ability.
  • Vigilance – A person’s level of alertness, vigilance is what keeps up watchful when we are driving. An example of this would be if you’re driving through a shopping center and there are many pedestrians walking by, in order to avoid an accident you need to be hyper vigilant of the people and vehicles around you, as well as making sure to take the correct stops and/or turns. Vigilance issues in a person can occur at BAC levels of .03.

Preventing a DWI Charge & A Dangerous Situationdriving while intoxicated Springfield

The data above shows us that it doesn’t take much alcohol to making driving while intoxicated in Springfield a potentially deadly activity. Many people have tried to guess how many drinks it takes for them to personally reach or not reach a certain BAC , as a preventative measure to drunk driving. This does not work. It’s impossible to correctly gauge exactly how many drinks it takes for a person to reach a certain level of BAC, however this article states that it will take approximately three alcoholic drinks to get a person’s BAC levels to .05% (this is a guesstimate). With three drinks in your system that will, ‘impair the ability to rapidly focus vision, lower alertness and decrease coordination — to the point that steering becomes difficult and response to driving emergencies becomes blunted.” While this article does offer some useful information that can be used as a type of measurement, the best way to avoid being charged with a DWI in Springfield is to abstain from drinking and driving entirely. A couple simple solutions include:

  • Make a Plan Before You Go Out – Decide if where you’re going to you can stay the night (not just until you “sober up”), download the Uber App, or have someone pick you up.
  • Use a Designated Driver (DD) – Choose someone you can trust not to drink to drive you back to your house when you’re ready to leave.
  • Don’t Drive Your Car – If you’re not driving on the way to the party or the bar, the less likely you are to drive home.
  • Stay Where You Are – If it’s a friend’s house and you plan on drinking, stay the night.
  • Don’t Drink – If you don’t think you can be trusted to not drink and drive, you shouldn’t be drinking.

If for some reason you do find yourself in the situation of being charged with driving while intoxicated in Springfield, contact DWI Springfield today. Our experienced DWI attorneys will be able to fight aggressively on your behalf, to either reduce or dismiss the charges against you.