The Science of Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most common criminal charges in the State of Florida, where every year over 1,000 lives are lost as a result of alcohol-related crashes. Florida typically records more deaths involving a drunk driver per 100,000 people than the national average as well as a higher-than-normal percentage of adults reporting that they drive while under the influence of alcohol. This adds up to heightened pressure from law enforcement to curtail the problem and an increased chance of being pulled over on a Friday night after you’ve had a few drinks at the local watering hole.

There are three main ways to prevent yourself from being convicted of a DUI:

  1. Don’t drink and drive
  2. Understand the science of drunk driving, assess your limits, and act accordingly
  3. Consult an experienced DUI attorney in Tampa

This brief article covers the second point, the science of drunk driving, to help you develop a better understanding of when you shouldn’t drive while providing tips to help you avoid being convicted of DUI. However, you should never try to game the system. You’ll only put yourself and others at risk. The only surefire way to avoid a DUI is to abstain from drinking and driving. That said, the assistance of a DUI defense lawyer in Tampa can increase your chances of reaching a favorable outcome if you are charged.

Breaking Down BAC

Drunk driving laws are consistent nationwide. If you are 21 or older and you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, regardless of the state, you can be charged with DUI. These laws have already purportedly saved thousands of lives, but as the figures above show, they’re regularly disregarded by drivers in the Sunshine State. 

In the United States, the average drink is characterized by .6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. The size of the drink may vary, but the alcohol content remains the same when determining what counts as a “standard drink.” For example, all of the following beverages will have virtually the same effect on a person despite having different volumes and alcohol concentrations:

  • Regular Beer: 12 fluid ounces, ~5 percent alcohol
  • Malt Liquor: 8-9 fluid ounces, ~7 percent alcohol
  • Table Wine: 5 fluid ounces, ~12 percent alcohol
  • Fortified Wine (i.e., Sherry, Port): 3-4 fluid ounces, ~17 percent alcohol
  • Cordial, Liqueur, or Aperitif: 2-3 fluid ounces, ~24 percent alcohol
  • Brandy: 1.5 fluid ounces, ~40 percent alcohol
  • 80-Proof Spirits (Hard Liquor): 1.5 fluid ounces, ~40 percent alcohol

While many people characterize different types of alcohol as having different effects on them, the truth is that a shot of tequila, whiskey, or vodka will all affect you in a similar way. However, congeners, which are produced during the fermentation and distillation process, may affect the “type” of drunk you feel. That said, the effects of different types of alcohol have not been studied extensively and any current information is largely speculation.

Controlling the Outcome

While it’s possible to measure your BAC prior to getting behind the wheel, is that really a chance you want to take? Even if you utilize a tool like Cleveland Clinic’s BAC Calculatorthe slightest margin of error could land you in trouble. The best defense against DUI is to avoid putting yourself in a vulnerable situation or, if you’ve already been charged, consult a DUI attorney in Tampa.

For a free consultation with a DUI defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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