These are the most common misconceptions people have about drinking and the effects of alcohol, along with the actual facts.
1. BEER IS LESS INTOXICATING THAN OTHER TYPES OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES.
One 12-ounce can of beer, one 4-ounce glass of wine or one normal mixed drink or cocktail are all equally intoxicating. And you can't fool the testing equipment by drinking white wine instead of bourbon. Alcohol is alcohol.
2. SWITCHING BETWEEN BEER, WINE, AND LIQUOR WILL MAKE YOU DRUNKER.
Mixing types of drinks may make you sicker by upsetting your stomach, but not more intoxicated. Alcohol is alcohol.
3. IF I HAVE TOO MUCH TO DRINK, I CAN DRINK A LOT OF COFFEE TO SOBER UP QUICKLY. RIGHT?
Ha. Tell us another one! Drinking a lot of coffee after drinking too much alcohol may, however, increase your discomfort through the need to use the bathroom while being transported to the jail on DUI charges. Only time will remove alcohol from the system. It takes the body approximately one hour to eliminate the alcohol in one drink. An old saying goes, “give a drunk a cup of coffee and all you have is a wide-awake drunk.
4. EATING BREATH MINTS AFTER DRINKING FOOLS A POLICE BREATH TEST.
Eating mints will not affect your BAC level since it isn't the smell of your breath, but the alcohol content, that's measured. Using breath mints, however, may earn you points with the arresting officer if you normally have bad breath.
5. WELL, AT LEAST EATING BREATH MINTS FOOLS THE OFFICER.
Ha. Sure, police are really fooled when they see a combination of erratic driving behavior and powerfully minty breath. Yep, that one fools them every time. Get real.
6. PREPARING YOURSELF BY EATING CERTAIN FOODS BEFORE AN EVENING OF HEAVY DRINKING WILL HELP KEEP YOUR SOBER.
That story has been around since before your grandparents were born. The only relation we've seen between what you eat before drinking and your drunkenness is that the more you drink, the more likely police are to find what you ate on your shirt, or on the floorboard of the patrol car.
7. IF I EAT A BIG MEAL BEFORE DRINKING, THAT WILL HELP KEEP ME FROM GETTING DRUNK.
How much you have eaten, and how recently, may have a small effect on how quickly or slowly the alcohol you consume will enter your bloodstream — but it won't stop the alcohol from entering. If you drink too much, you will become intoxicated. There may be, however, a direct correlation between the size of your meal and how much of your meal may be found later in patrol cars and jail cells.
8. SPLASHING COLD WATER ON MY FACE OR TAKING A COLD SHOWER WILL HELP SOBER ME UP.
Splash away! And by all means, take a cold shower. It may make you cleaner, but it won't sober you up or make you a safe driver. The deputies at the jail, however, prefer clean drunks and recommend showering prior to doing anything that will lead to your arrest, such as driving after you've been drinking.
9. RUNNING AROUND THE BLOCK A FEW TIMES WILL SOBER ME UP ENOUGH TO DRIVE HOME.
Exercise won't sober you up any faster, but feel free to run around the block as many times as you like. The deputies at the jail ask us to remind you to shower after your long run and before you drive a car.
10. THEY WERE SERVING A SPIKED PUNCH, BUT I COULDN'T EVEN TASTE THE ALCOHOL IN IT. I CAN'T BE DRUNK!
Party-goer, beware. Fruit juices have the ability to mask the taste of alcohol. A fruit punch can contain a substantial amount of alcohol without the taste of the alcohol being noticed — but it will make you just as drunk as alcohol which you can taste in another kind of drink. A mild-tasting cup of punch at a party may contain more alcohol than any normal drink you would buy at a bar.
11. EVERYONE REACTS TO ALCOHOL IN THE SAME WAY.
Many factors affect a person's reaction to alcohol: body weight, metabolism, gender, body chemistry and many others.
12. FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS, BEING BASED ON SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES, ACCURATELY IDENTIFY INTOXICATED DRIVERS.
During a study conducted by scientists at Clemson University police officers were shown videotapes of individuals taking six common field sobriety tests. The officers were asked to decide whether suspects were too intoxicated to drive legally. Unknown to the officers, none of the suspects had a BAC above .000. They had zero alcohol in their blood. However, in the professional opinion of the officers, 46 percent of the completely sober individuals were too drunk to drive! Therefore, use of field sobriety tests led to judgments by law enforcement officers that were about as accurate as flipping a coin.
13. PEOPLE WHO ABSTAIN FROM ALCOHOL ARE “ALCOHOL-FREE” AND CAN'T BE ARRESTED FOR DUI.
The human body produces its own supply of alcohol naturally on a continuous basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's called endogenous ethanol production. Therefore, we always have alcohol in our bodies and in some cases people produce enough to become legally intoxicated and arrested for DUI.
14. A BREATHALYZER WILL CLEAR FROM SUSPICION DIABETICS SUFFERING FROM HYPOGLYCEMIA WHO FAIL TESTS
Symptoms such as slurred speech, disorientation, staggering, drowsiness, poor motor control, and flushed face cause diabetics to fail field sobriety tests. Hypoglycemia causes acetone in the breath, which the Breathalyzer will record as alcoholh. Unfortunately, about one of seven drivers is diabetic and at risk of false arrest and conviction for DUI.
15. AS LONG AS YOU'VE GOTTEN A FEW HOURS OF SLEEP, YOU'LL BE OK TO DRIVE THE MORNING AFTER YOU'VE BEEN DRINKING.
Power naps, even in the middle of the night, are not sufficient. Alcohol is processed out of the body at your body's own fixed rate. Your reflexes and other physical abilities can be affected for as many as 10 hours after you've finished your last drink (and this could be longer if you had a tremendous amount to drink).
16. IT'S EASY TO KNOW YOUR OWN LIMIT AND TO KEEP FROM DRIVING AFTER HAVING CONSUMED ALCOHOL.
It's actually not easy, because with each drink, you're getting more and more impaired (and that includes your judgement which is making decisions about your ability to drive safely). Even a little alcohol can affect your driving and your ability to be as safe as possible on the roadways.
17. THE SIGNS ARE OBVIOUS FOR A DRIVER WHO HAS HAD TOO MUCH TO DRINK.
While some of the signs are obvious (weaving, crossing lanes, ignoring a stop light or a stop sign, driving very slowly, or having headlights off at night), some are not so obvious (like stopping at a green light, braking erratically, or driving with the dome light on during the night).
18. GETTING ARRESTED FOR A DUI IS NO BIG DEAL.
It affects your driving record, it can cost a lot of money, including increased insurance costs, and it can be a large inconvenience if you lose your driving privileges.
19. YOU CAN ONLY GET CONVICTED OF DUI AFTER YOU'VE USED ALCOHOL.
The DUI conviction also applies to the use of drugs, since they, too, can impair your ability to drive safely. With supporting evidence of other drugs, people can be convicted of driving with a BAC of 0.00 percent.
20. NOTHING SOBERS UP A DRINKER EXCEPT TIME!
Because your liver oxidizes alcohol at a constant rate (about 1 drink per hour), nothing but time will sober you up. Drinking coffee has no effect on your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).
Who Causes the Accidents?
- Young adults in the 21 to 34 age group cause 50 percent of all alcohol-related fatalities.
- It is estimated that one in seven adults is a problem drinker, and is therefore a potential danger to themselves and others when behind the wheel.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that up to 20 percent of drivers involved in injury accidents have been taking drugs (other than alcohol).
- Impaired drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents late at night and on weekends.
- If you allow someone who is obviously impaired to drive, you become part of the problem. Take their keys, take them home, call a cab, or do whatever is necessary to keep them from driving.