Monday, July 26, 2010

Don't Drink and Drive, Unless It's In Conformance With This Chart

Source: CA Driver Handbook

The DMV recently decided to grace my mailbox with my latest car registration slip, one of the less mentioned costs of car ownership. It ran me $87 plus $60 to get the sucker smogged (necessary every two years). I'm not complaining. I think these fees are fair. It just adds fuel to my dream of being car free.

Tucked in the envelope were two copies of the State's Alcohol Impairment Chart. It shows you how likely it is that your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit of .08% (that is, for people over age 21 not operating "commercial vehicles") based on how many drinks you've had and how long it's been since you had them.

What strikes me when I look at the chart is how it sends a convoluted message. You shouldn't drive under the influence. But "under the influence" is defined in such a nuanced way that the message gets watered down.

The chart says that someone of my weight could drink three drinks in an hour immediately before driving without being "definitely DUI" (that would take 4).

I don't know what to say, except that I think we should tighten the standards. Given the 40,000+ people that die annually in car collisions on US roads, we aren't taking DUIs and the threat posed by cars generally seriously, and lives will be lost because of it.


  1. I've always followed 1 drink/hr. with a minimum of 90 minutes between last beer and first driving. Apparently I worry too much.

    My nights out bar-hopping when the late-night shuttle is running are much more fun. And a touch more expensive...

  2. Oh, and you might like this post from my archives, considering you seem to be on the whole DUI thing lately.

    We assume that the most important thing people are doing on a given night is driving... but what if the most important thing they're doing is drinking?

  3. Thanks for the link. I remember that one.