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“Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving”

Once again, the NHTSA is conducting their Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving campaign during the 4th of July holiday. The campaign focuses on the week of July 1-7, with particular emphasis on July 4th.

Around the 4th of July holiday, there is an increase in impaired driving crashes. In 2022, 40% of fatal crashes over the 4th of July holiday were the result of drunk driving, and 27% of the drivers who were impaired had a BAC at or above .15 g/di—almost twice the legal limit in the majority of states. Around half of the drunk drivers were in the 21-34 age group.

You may know that the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for being considered drunk is .08 g/di. But did you know that a blood alcohol concentration as low as .02 can affect your ability to drive safely? Alcohol consumption impairs your thinking, your reasoning and your muscle coordination—all critical to your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Here’s a breakdown of how various BACs can affect you. Just remember that the affects are cumulative. Each increase in BAC adds more areas of impairment to your driving ability.

  1. At .02 BAC, you will experience a decline in your visual functions and your ability to perform two tasks at the same time.
  2. At a BAC of.05, you will have reduced coordination and an impaired ability to track moving objects—as in other cars! You will also have difficulty steering and a reduced response to emergency situations.
  3. At a BAC of .08 you will lose your ability to concentrate, have short-term memory loss, be unable to control your speed, have a lower ability to process information, and have impaired perception.
  4. At .10 blood alcohol concentration, you will struggle to maintain lane position and brake appropriately.
  5. At a BAC of .15, you will have substantial impairment in vehicle control, struggle to pay attention to the task of driving, and be unable to process necessary visual and auditory information.

Remember, driving while impaired is illegal—and that includes drug-impaired driving. If you feel different, you drive differently, so don’t drive under the influence of any mind-altering product.

Even if you don’t get in a crash, there can be a high price for driving under the influence (DUI). If you are arrested for drunk driving, you face jail time and financial consequences that can be upwards of $10,000 for attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, car towing, and more. Your driver’s license will also be suspended.  

If you plan to drink over the 4th of July holiday, plan ahead for a safe way home. Don’t even risk driving after one drink. Let someone who hasn’t been drinking drive you home. As you can see from the list provided here, even a small amount of alcohol impairs your driving ability.

If you’re hosting a 4th of July party, be sure to provide plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. Keep an eye on your guests, take their keys when necessary, and help them find a way home safely. And if you see an impaired driver on the road, pull over safely and call 911.

If you’d like to know more about the NHTSA’s national Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving awareness campaign and how you and your community can support it, go to https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/safety-topics/drunk-driving/buzzed-driving-drunk-driving/fourth-july.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July holiday!

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