Areas of Practice
Why Do People Drive Drunk & Impaired
DUI is a crime that transcends age, race, gender, and lifestyle.
Whereas the typical profile of drunk drivers used to be binge-drinking men between the ages of 21 and 35, today there is no one single type of person who drives under the influence. People from all walks of life — men and women, young and old, professions ranging from blue collar workers to housewives and congressmen — have been charged with DUI.
According to the Sourcebook Of Criminal Justice Statistics Online, there were 4,208 DUI arrests in Illinois and 1,039,551 DUI arrests across the United States. Of these DUI arrests, 86% (or approx. 3,618) of impaired drivers were first-time offenders.
You might wonder, why do so many people take a chance and drive after drinking?
- Drivers are not aware that they are too impaired to drive safely
- Drivers may know they have a “buzz,” but think they can still drive safely
- Drivers may feel more confident or even invincible after drinking
- The belief that they won’t get caught
- The belief that “everybody does it, so it’s no big deal”
- To avoid leaving their car overnight in an unfamiliar or distant location
- The need to get somewhere or be somewhere on time
- Young drivers may be hesitant to ask parents for rides in a drinking situation
- Believing that there are quick ways to sober up: drinking black coffee, taking a cold shower, getting fresh air, exercising, eating after drinking, drinking lost water
But perhaps the biggest reason for the high incidence of DUI is the fact that even a Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) well below .08 still affects judgment. People who have been drinking (or are under the influence of drugs) have impaired judgment and make poor decisions, such as driving while under the influence.
Impairing Effects Of Drugs On Driving
Many people don’t realize or underestimate to what extent drugs – whether OTC (over-the-counter), prescription or illegal drugs – may impair their ability to drive. They may not realize that certain cold remedies, painkillers and muscle relaxants may be just as debilitating as alcohol, if not more so. This is also true of people who use recreational drugs such as marijuana. But no matter the source, drivers who demonstrate impairment may be arrested and charged with DUI.
Impairing Effects of Various Illegal Drugs
- Marijuana: Relaxation, euphoria, disorientation, altered time and space perception, drowsiness, paranoia, image distortion, increased heart rate.
- Cocaine: Euphoria, excitation, dizziness, increased focus and alertness (initially), confusion and disoriented behavior, irritability, paranoia, aggressiveness, increased heart rate.
- Methamphetamine: Euphoria, excitation, hallucinations, delusions, insomnia, poor impulse control, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure.
- Morphine & Heroin: Intense euphoria, drowsiness, relaxation, sedation, disconnectedness, mental clouding, analgesia, depressed heart rate, nausea and vomiting, diminished reflexes.
- LSD: Hallucinations, altered mental state, delusions, impaired depth, time and space perception, hypertension, tremors.
- Source: dui.findlaw.com
Prescription & Over-the-Counter Drugs
- Antidepressants: Some sedating antidepressants cause impairment similar to drunk driving.
- Valium: 10 mg of the popular tranquilizer can cause impairment similar to having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent.
- Antihistamines: Many of them slow reaction time and impair coordination.
- Decongestants: Many over-the-counter decongestants can cause drowsiness, anxiety and dizziness.
- Sleeping Pills: Even in the morning, the residual effects of these drugs can impair drivers.
- Hydrocodone: This common pain reliever, the main component of Vicodin, is similar to opiates and causes impairment similar to morphine and codeine (oxycodone has similar effects).
- Source: dui.findlaw.com
WAYS TO PREVENT DRINKING AND DRIVING
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) suggests the following in order to reduce and prevent drinking and driving:
When Drinking Alcohol
- Choose a designated driver. Decide who’s going to be doing the driving before you go out, and make sure that person doesn’t drink any alcoholic beverages.
- Arrange an alternate way to get home safely. Sometimes even the designated driver slips. If nobody in your group is sober, take alternate transportation. Cab, train, bus – anything’s better than getting in the car with a drunk driver.
When Throwing a Party
- Offer non-alcoholic beverages. Water, juice, soda – give your guests plenty of alternatives. And never pressure guests to drink alcohol.
- Serve plenty of food. A full stomach can slow the rate of alcohol absorption. Serve a great meal or have plenty of appetizers on hand.
- Stop serving alcohol well before the party ends. Give your guests an extra hour or two without alcohol before they head out the door.
- Arrange alternate transportation. Pay attention to your guests’ alcohol intake and behavior. If someone has had a lot to drink or seems even the slightest bit tipsy, call a cab or set up a ride with a sober driver.
- Hide keys. Don’t be afraid to take someone’s car keys. If the person gets angry, it’s probably proof you’re doing the right thing.
- Never serve minors. If you knowingly serve alcohol to minors under the age of 21, or if a minor leaves the property intoxicated, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. If a minor who you served causes an alcohol-related death, you may be charged with a Class 4 Felony.