Why You Must Learn the Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol and driving simply don’t mix. A scary 30 – 40 percent of all road fatalities involve alcohol. This is why anyone applying for a driver’s license or learner’s permit must be aware of the effects of alcohol on their driving skills.
In some states, like Florida, applicants must complete a drug and alcohol awareness course. In other states, like Tennessee, many questions on the DMV written test focus on alcohol.
It doesn’t matter if you are a person who drinks alcohol or not, alcohol use is a concern for all road users and all holders of a driver’s license.
I think, you will find it well worth your time to carefully study the chapters about alcohol in your driver handbook. You can expect questions on the DMV test to deal with attitudes, myths and hard facts about alcohol use.
Judgment is the First to Go
Most people believe that alcohol is a stimulant, but it isn’t. It is a depressant drug. It depresses the central nervous system, which means that alcohol slows you down.
The first thing affected by alcohol are those areas in the brain that are involved in inhibiting behaviors. You may feel more confident and talk more. You become less aware of your surroundings and will lose some of your ability to concentrate.
All of them are signs of a fading judgment.
After only one drink, you will have difficulties judging distances and the speed of other vehicles; skills that are necessary for safe driving. Your reflexes, reaction time, and vision are also affected when you continue drinking.
Our hint about alcohol and driving for the DMV test: Alcohol affects your judgment and skills necessary for safe driving.
Your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
The amount of alcohol in your blood depends on and changes with your body weight, time spent drinking, and – of course – the amount of alcohol that is consumed.
When two people weigh the same, the percentage of body fat can also make a difference. This is why women often will raise their blood alcohol content (BAC) faster than men.
What Will Help You Sober Up?
This question targets one of the most common myths about alcohol. The plain and simple answer is: time!
Sobering up is a slow process. The liver can only get rid of about one drink per hour. This rate cannot be increased by drinking coffee, taking vitamins, exercising, taking a cold shower or anything else.
Myths about Sobering Up Quickly
The following are some of the most common myths:
Myth: “One of most effective ways to sober up in a hurry is by eating something. Some foods work better than others, such as foods which contain a large amount of grease.” (We copied this from bloodalcoholcalculator.org – a totally useless advice.)
Fact: Food in your stomach causes alcohol to be absorbed more slowly and may slightly increase the rate of alcohol metabolism. It will not help to get rid of alcohol once it is in your blood.
Myth: “A good trick is to drink plenty of coffee”.
Fact: Coffee may help you feel awake and more alert, but your blood alcohol content (BAC) is not reduced by drinking coffee or plenty of water.
Myth: “It may be the last thing you want to do, but getting moving will help you to sober up quickly. Exercise helps keep your body awake and alert and metabolize the alcohol more quickly.” (We copied this from www.livestrong.com – an equally useless advice.)
Fact: Again, you may feel awake and more alert, but exercise does not change the rate at which your enzymes are breaking down alcohol. No physical exercise can reliably reduce alcohol in your blood.
Myth: “Sweating it out in a sauna helps!”
Fact: Probably popular in Finland, but it has no effect on your blood alcohol content. Instead, you should drink water to counter alcohol’s dehydrating effects; it will at least make you feel a little bit better the next morning.
Our hint for the DMV test: Only time will reduce the amount of alcohol in your body.
Know the Implied Consent Law in Your State
The third most common question is about implied consent laws. By getting a learner’ s permit or driver’s license in any state, you give consent to certain tests for alcohol or drugs in your blood, breath, or urine. Your driving privilege implies that you have given such a consent.
If you are stopped by a police officer, arrested for drunk driving, and asked to take a test, you may refuse. But such a refusal will have serious consequences. You driving privilege will automatically be suspended or revoked, even if you aren’t convicted of drunk driving in court.
Our hint for the DMV test: Know what the consequences of a test refusal in your state.
Legal Limits and Being Below the Limit
Another, and trickier question, about alcohol and driving that might show up on your test is about legal limits.
The legal limit is generally 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers 21 years of age or older. This is the limit at which you are “automatically” guilty of driving under the influence (or related statute) without any other evidence.
If there is other evidence that you were too intoxicated to safely operate a vehicle, you can still be charged with driving under the influence. Remember, operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a drug that impairs your ability to drive safely is always against the law.
A sobriety test by a police officer may be enough evidence that you are guilty of drunk driving. You may be convicted by the court without evidence of blood alcohol content and even if test result shows that you didn’t reach the limit of .08 percent.
Think “combination of drugs and alcohol” or “health problems and alcohol” and you will probably understand why you can be convicted even if there is a just a small amount of alcohol in your breath or blood. You should remember that “driving under influence” means influence of alcohol or drugs or both.
If you take the permit test as a minor, you should also be aware of the zero tolerance law. The legal limit for a minor is between .00 and .02 percent, depending on state.
Our hint about alcohol and driving for the DMV test: Know legal limits and that you can be convicted without any evidence of alcohol in your blood.
What Should You Do If You Have Been Drinking
Obvious, isn’t it? Alcohol and driving, don’t mix – so, don’t drive if you have been drinking. Arrange a designated driver, use public transport or sleep over.
The best advice you can give a friend who has been drinking is “not to drive”. He or she should let someone who hasn’t been drinking drive.