When They Were Drunk, They Were Very, Very Drunk

You remember the verse about the little girl who had a curl – when she was good, she was very, very good. A study of drunk driving crashes conducted by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR) has shown that when drinking Hoosiers have a car wreck that kills someone, it’s not because they are drunk . . . they’re likely to be very, very drunk.

According to FAAR’s statistics, 228 people lost their lives in 2012 Indiana motor vehicle accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. The statistic that really stands out, though, is that 75.2 percent of those drivers had a blood alcohol content of 0.15 and higher. Of course, the legal limit in Indiana is 0.08.

What’s more, 63.2 percent of these drunk drivers who caused fatal crashes in Indiana were repeat high-BAC offenders.

Is it possible that many of those who drink alcohol don’t have an understanding of how it affects the human body and its functioning? Or is their ability to reason and use that information simply compromised by the consumption of alcohol? Here are some things you need to understand about drinking and driving, courtesy of the Virginia Tech Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center:

  • The more you weigh the more space alcohol has to fill. This lowers the concentration of alcohol in your body. (No, this does not give you a good excuse to “Supersize it.”)
  • The higher your percent of body fat, the higher your BAC compared to someone of equal weight with less body fat. (See above note re Supersizing it.)
  • Women’s bodies absorb about 5 to 10 percent more alcohol than men. In addition, they tend to weigh less and have a higher percentage of body fat, and thus have a higher BAC.

Here is how you can estimate your BAC: Take the number of standard drinks consumed and subtract the number of hours you have been drinking. If you’re a man, multiply that by .017; if you’re a woman, multiply it by .02. For instance, the BAC of a 170 lb. man who has 5 standard drinks in 3 hours would be .034; for a 130 lb. woman it would be .04.

Here’s the catch: What is a “standard drink”? A standard drink is 0.5 ounces of alcohol. Many people think of “a beer” as “a drink.” However, many 12-oz. cans of beer contain more alcohol than the standard drink. For example, Blue Moon White, Bud Ice, Heineken and Miller High Life; Sam Adams Triple Bock has three times the usual amount of alcohol. Generally, the darker the beer, and the more bitter it is, the more alcohol it contains. And, of course, some servings of beer are more than 12 ounces.

If you’re a wine drinker, 4 to 5 ounces qualifies as a standard drink. Most restaurants aim for a 6-oz. pour, regardless of the size or shape of the glass. So if you’ve had two glasses of red wine at a restaurant, you’ve had three standard drinks. With the exception of Chardonnay, red wines have more alcohol than whites.

Shots? Depends on the liquor, but generally drinking two shots is equal to three standard drinks. The thing is, you can get a lot down in a short amount of time.

Mixed drinks? Again, that depends. A Long Island Ice Tea typically contains vodka, tequila, rum, gin and triple sec, and can be equal to 4-5 beers.
So to get back to our discussion of drinking and driving, consider these facts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about the specific ways BAC levels affect driving skills:

.02 Decline in visually tracking a rapidly moving object.

.05 Reduced coordination, difficulty steering, reduced response to emergency driving situations. Twice as likely to have a crash.

.08 Poor muscle coordination and reaction time, impaired perception and speed control. Five times more likely to have a crash.

.10 Reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately. Six to twelve times more likely to have a crash.

<p>.15 Substantial impairment of control, attention, judgment and perception; blurred vision and major loss of balance. Twenty times more likely to crash.

Now back to our original finding from FAARS: 75.2 percent of Indiana drunk drivers who killed someone in an accident in 2012 had a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or higher and the majority of them had already had a high-BAC event of some kind. And remember, these statistics report only accidents that actually resulted in a death, not serious injuries. In September of 2012, two Indiana accidents in one week involved drivers with a BAC of more than .50! Seven people were hospitalized from those two accidents.

As Indiana drunk driving accident lawyers, we are very, very concerned. Families whose lives have been turned upside down by injuries or a death caused by a drunk driver need help obtaining compensation that will cover medical expenses, loss of income, funeral expenses, and make up for their reduced quality of life. At McNeely Stephenson, we’re very, very glad to provide that assistance. Call 1-855-206-2555.