Distracted driving and impaired driving are the two largest causes of auto accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,142 people died in drunk-driving crashes in 2019.
Furthermore, 28 people in the U.S. die in drunk-driving crashes every day – one person every 52 minutes.
About one-third of all vehicle crashes involve an impaired driver. Alcohol impairs thinking, slows reaction time and muscle coordination, and reduces brain function – which are significant liabilities for drivers.
The legal limit for Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC, in most states, is .08 (in Utah, it’s .05).
The typical effects of alcohol at different Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) includes:
- At .05: Exaggerated behavior, loss of small muscle control, impaired judgment, lowered alertness and inhibitions.
- At .08: Poor muscle coordination affecting balance, speech, vision, reaction time and hearing, impaired judgment, self-control, reasoning and memory.
- At .10: Clear deterioration of reaction time and control, slurred speech, slowed thinking and poor coordination.
You could still be impaired even if you’re below the legal limit. In 2019, according to the NHTSA, 1,775 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes where a driver had a BAC of .01 to .07.
Tool: Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) calculator
Use this Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) calculator to see how drinking affects your blood-alcohol level, and how that compares to the DUI limit according to your state’s laws. This calculator considers your weight, gender, the time you’ll be out, the drinks you’ll consume and state laws.
Keep in mind, however, that you should always take precautions before getting behind the wheel to protect the safety of yourself and others. People are affected by alcohol differently, and it may be unsafe for you to drive even if you’re under your state’s DUI limits.
Blood Alcohol Content Calculator
The basic formula for estimating a person's blood-alcohol concentration comes from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Each drink in this calculation assumes a volume of .54 ounces of alcohol (one shot of distilled spirits, a glass of wine, or 12 ounces of beer).
Plan ahead to avoid drinking and driving
You should never get behind the wheel after having a drink. As you can see, the calculator shows how dangerous it is to get behind the wheel after even one drink and how the risk increases with each successive drink consumed.
A DUI conviction will cost you thousands of dollars and mar your record for years. And it will drive up your car insurance rates for just as long.
The NHTSA advises folks to make alternative plans for transportation if they plan on drinking. Here are a few tips:
- Before beginning an evening out, designate a driver ahead of time.
- Take the keys away from friends who have been drinking.
- If you’re hosting a party, ensure your guests are sober when leaving. If not, order them a taxi, Uber or Lyft.
- Always wear your seat belt.