Put the keys down, you’re drunk. Seriously. If you think you’re different, that you can handle it behind the wheel after taking alcohol, then you’re either still inebriated, a master of denial, are in one of our top six favorite celebrity DUI mugshots, or just plain stupid. Study after study shows that drinking alcohol impairs motor skills, and impaired motor skills mean no motoring!
Alcohol deceives you into feeling easy and confident because it stimulates the part of the brain related to relaxation and dampens not only your sense of responsibility but your ability to plan and think ahead. It’s a depressant that slows your central nervous system, meaning you react slower and with less coordination, and behave in ways you normally would not. Therefore, the danger of driving drunk is so much higher. And not just to you, to anyone who happens to be sharing the road with you if you’re drunk.
So you go to a party, have a few drinks, and when the party dies down, you and your friends decide to move the party to another location. You get behind the wheel and, soon enough, there are red and blue lights flashing in your mirrors. Thought you were driving just fine? Think again.
Drunk driving, or drinking and driving, is a term used when one is driving under the influence of alcohol. No matter how much alcohol you have consumed—even if it’s under the legal limit provided by your state— your ability to drive may be impaired.
Alcohol may make you feel confident and more sociable at first, but the alcohol is essentially tricking your body into feeling that way. It stimulates areas of the brain that are related to relaxation and dulls the area responsible for planning. Therefore, you may feel less stressed. However, alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it slows the central nervous system—which includes your brain—resulting in delayed reaction times, lack of coordination, and out of character behavior. In other words, all of these side effects have a direct negative impact on your driving.
An even bigger negative impact will be felt if you get caught, and believe it or not, drunk drivers who do take to the road are not that difficult to spot.
In this age of mobile communication, that means they’re also very easy to report to the police. If you are arrested for driving while intoxicated, traffic school will be the least of your worries. Police everywhere have a very low tolerance for drunk drivers. You’ll likely face revocation of your driver’s license, stiff fines and possibly jail time, community service, or probation. There’s also the costs associated with simply going through the criminal process. Getting charged with drunk driving could cost you $10,000, or more. Legal fees, court costs, insurance hikes, restitution, the cost of a new vehicle. It can add up quick to a huge loss.
And that’s if you don’t severely injure yourself, or kill yourself, or someone else. Besides the psychic pain of knowing you hurt someone, perhaps a close friend who was in your car or maybe a stranger, you could face years of mental and or physical recovery. Guilt is a powerful thing, especially when accompanied by nagging physical reminders. At this point, driving drunk is no longer just a bad choice, but a fatal error, especially if you survive. And hospital bills aren’t cheap either.
Future employers don’t tend to look kindly on those who’ve been convicted of drunk driving, so if you decide to chance it, you could be altering your professional future as well. Employers want people who make responsible choices, not party people who throw safety and caution to the wind (or down the hatch, as it were).
Finally, there’s the embarrassment and disappointment you’ll feel from your family and friends, who may be supportive through your ordeal, but who’ve all found it easy to simply make another choice, and won’t feel great that you weren’t able to. So, designate a driver, find a ride home with a sober friend, or call someone, even a taxi or a rideshare, to come get you. Believe us, in the long run it is far wiser and cheaper. A much smarter choice.