We have all seen an intoxicated person stumbling along the sidewalk or bumping into people in a crowded bar, slurring their words, and in extreme cases passing out.

How does a person get to the point where they pass out or can’t function? How does alcohol affect a person’s ability to drive a vehicle? By understanding the science behind your body and alcohol absorption, it could save your life, a friend, or prevent a loved one from driving drunk.

Blood alcohol levels and your body

Consuming alcohol has damaging effects on your body’s central nervous system. This vital system is responsible for sending signals to the brain to maintain your reaction time and help you with everyday motor skills, such as seeing, walking, talking, thinking, and reaction time. As your blood alcohol levels (BAC) increase, the signals to your brain decrease and become slower, reducing your ability to function normally

When a person is under the influence of alcohol and pulled over or arrested, a police officer will typically administer what is called a breathalyzer. It measures your BAC level to determine how intoxicated you are.

Even if your BAC level is as low as .02, your ability to function and drive a vehicle are impaired. You can experience mood changes, loss of small muscle control, reduced reaction time, and struggle to perform two tasks simultaneously, such as driving and lane changing.

In Virginia, the legal limit is a Blood Alcohol level of 0.08. At this level, you will experience poor coordination, struggle to recognize the danger and have impaired balance, speech, vision. With these impairments, operating a vehicle is dangerous.

When your BAC level is between .10 and .15, you are very intoxicated. You can experience vomiting, slurred speech, inability to walk, talk, and driving a vehicle in this condition not safe at all and can lead to a fatal car accident.

Facts don’t lie: Educate yourself and drive safe

According to the United States Department of Transportation, close to 30 people in the United States are killed in drunk driving accidents every day. That equals out to one person every 50 minutes.

  • 10,511 people died in 2018 from drunk driving accidents
  • 29% of accidents in 2018 were caused by drunk drivers
  • 231 children in 2018 were killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver

While the deaths caused by drunk driving have gone done by a third, drunk driving still claims more than 10,000 lives each year. When you drink and drive, you put your life and other drivers’ lives at risk.