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Alcohol and other drugs can not only harm oneself but also ones judgement which is critical while driving. If one’s judgement is severely affected, they won’t be as responsive to sounds, signals, signs and traffic laws as they normally would be. Disobeying these aspects of driving can easily lead to accidents and in worst case scenario, even death. These are the basic reasons as to why there are laws against driving while intoxicated, along with any opened containers of alcohol need to be kept in the trunk of a car.
Alcohol impairs one’s attentiveness and ability to react to changes in their environment. While under the influence of alcohol one may experience a variety of changes. These changes include an increase of body warmth, a loss of judgement, relaxation, impaired visual functions, etc. The changes of a person depend solely on the amount of alcohol consumed. The amount of alcohol one consumes can be measured as one’s “Blood Alcohol Concentration.” Making the decision to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is irrational, however, people continue to do so. This is why nearly 13,000 people are killed each year due to alcohol related accidents.
The Blood Alcohol Concentration, also known as BAC, of a person is limited while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Depending on age, the percentage of the BAC one is legally allowed drive with varies. For a person within the age of twenty-one or older, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. For a person under the age of twenty-one, a BAC of 0.01% or higher is illegal while behind a wheel. However, at any age if a person is on Driving Under the Influence (DUI) probation, it is illegal to obtain a BAC of 0.01%. In any vehicle that requires a commercial driver license (CDL), it is illegal to obtain a BAC of 0.04% while driving.
One may experience different changes at different levels of BAC. At a 0.02% BAC one might feel relaxed, a loss of judgement, slight body warmth, altered mood and while driving they might notice a decline in their ability of tracking a moving target and using their divided attention. At a 0.05% BAC one might notice exaggerated behavior, decreased alertness, loss of focusing their eyes and while driving reduced coordination, difficulty steering, etc. At a 0.08% BAC one is at a stage that they find it hard to detect any danger, poor muscle coordination and impairment of reasoning and memory; while driving under this BAC one may lose their speed control, notice a reduced capability to process information, as well as impaired perception.
Although the effects of drugs on ones body are different than those of alcohol, it is safe to say neither are permitted to consume before operating a vehicle. The effects of a drug on a person is solely dependent on what drug is consumed. The common effects of drug use include a feeling of euphoria, increased attention, rapid/irregular heartbeat, decrease in reaction to sudden environmental changes, etc. The drugs that pose impaired judgement, alertness, concentration or motor skills may be considered just as dangerous as alcohol, if not more. Driving while under the influence of drugs is also charged as a DUI; this includes prescription medication as well as illegal drugs.
Unlike alcohol, Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, an active ingredient in marijuana, can be detected in one’s urine and bloodstream for up to four or five weeks after use. However, there is no way to detect actual impairment at a particular time during. Cocaine in particular happens to be drug that leaves your body within a day or two. Due to these circumstances, there are police officers known as DREs, Drug Recognition Experts, who follow specific guidelines to detect drug impairment in motorists. They observe a person’s eye movements, behavior and other things as a guide to detection of any drugs.
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