How is Intoxication Defined Legally?
All states except Utah define drunk driving as operation of a motor vehicle while your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 or greater (in Utah, the upper limit is even stricter, at a BAC of 0.05). Given the metabolism rate of alcohol, a BAC of 0.08 or less generally means consuming one or fewer alcoholic drinks per hour, depending on your weight and what you’ve eaten prior to drinking alcohol. A “drink” is loosely defined as a 12 oz. beer, a 6 oz. glass of wine, or a 1 oz. shot of liquor. If you’ve consumed more than one drink per hour before driving, there’s a good chance that you are legally intoxicated.
How Is Intoxication Determined in the Field?
Laws on determining a suspect’s level of intoxication vary state to state, but in Georgia they are fairly straightforward. You may be deemed intoxicated if your blood or breathalyzer test result shows a BAC of 0.08 or above (DUI “Per Se”), or if a police officer observes behavior consistent with alcohol impairment. An officer may deem you impaired based on his or her observations—even if you decline to comply with a field sobriety test or if the test shows a result under 0.08. For example, an officer may administer a roadside sobriety test in addition to Breathalyzer analysis. If you pass the Breathalyzer but fail the roadside test, the officer can still legally arrest you.
Don’t Become a Statistic
Of course, the surest way to avoid being arrested for drunk driving is to abstain from alcohol. But if that isn’t possible, there are a few things you can do.
- Designate a sober driver. If you’re going to a party or other event where you plan to be drinking, designate one person in the group to stay sober and to provide safe transportation home.
- Wait it out. If you’ve consumed more alcohol than you should, and no sober driver is available to give you a lift, wait a few hours before operating your car. Alcohol metabolizes out of your system at the rate of about a drink an hour, so if you don’t have to travel immediately, don't.
- Phone a friend. Nobody wants to be an imposition, but it’s better than being in an accident or in jail. If you know someone who’s sober and can come get you, make the call.
Remember that the penalties for DWI can include suspension of your driver’s license, confiscation of your vehicle, jail time, lost wages, family stress, and more. So if you think you might be impaired, play it safe, and don’t get behind the wheel.
If you or a loved one is arrested for DWI, call Bond James Bond, Inc., to assist with the posting of bail and your release from jail.
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