How to Know If You Are Too Drunk to Drive?

Thousands of people die every year as a result of alcohol-impaired car accidents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Indeed, in 2016 alone, 10,497 people sustained fatal injuries in drunk driving crashes, and alcohol-related traffic fatalities account for nearly 30 percent of all traffic deaths in the U.S. each year. While some drunk drivers recognize that they likely had too much to drink and decide to take the risk and get behind the wheel of a vehicle anyway, other drivers may not believe that they have had enough alcohol to result in a drunk driving crash.

How can you know if you are too drunk to drive? First, it is important to understand what it means to be too drunk to drive under Indiana law. Then, you should learn more about signs that you likely have had too much to drink in order to drive safely, and the ways alcohol affects different body types.

Indiana Law on Impaired or Intoxicated Driving

Under Indiana law, it is unlawful to operate a vehicle while intoxicated. The crime of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI), also known as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), occurs when a driver operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08.

This is the level of intoxication at which driving becomes unlawful. Yet it can be difficult for a person to know when she or he has consumed enough alcohol that his or her BAC is at or above 0.08 percent. Although it may be impossible for an individual to determine his or her BAC, there are significant signs of being drunk, at which point you should never get behind the wheel of a car.

Signs of Intoxication: Know When You May Be Too Intoxicated to Drive

A press release from the Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association (INRLA) explains that different people experience alcohol intoxication differently, and not everyone will have the same signs of intoxication. Generally speaking, however, shifts in a person’s physical actions or behavior may indicate that the person is too drunk to drive. The article cites the following as signs of intoxication:

  • Being overly friendly or, oppositely, acting unfriendly, quiet, or withdrawn;
  • Becoming loud;
  • Using inappropriate language;
  • Drinking alcoholic drinks very quickly;
  • Switching from beer or wine to stronger drinks or liquor;
  • Talking slowly;
  • Moving slowly;
  • Staggering;
  • Stumbling; and/or
  • Bumping into objects.

At the same time, it is important to know that not everyone shows physical or behavioral signs of intoxication, especially when that person drinks regularly. In such situations, the number of drinks can indicate whether a person likely is intoxicated.

Stages of Alcohol Intoxication

An article in Healthline explains that there are stages of intoxication, and they can help you to know whether you have consumed too much alcohol to drive safely. These are the stages of intoxication:

  • Lowest level of intoxication (BAC between 0.01 and 0.05 percent): the lowest level of intoxication—in which it remains lawful to drive—typically occurs when a person has had one or fewer alcoholic drinks in an hour. A person should not feel intoxicated at this point, and that person should not show outward signs of intoxication.
  • Euphoria stage of intoxication (BAC between 0.03 and 0.12 percent): this is the second stage of intoxication, and it typically occurs when a person has had anywhere from one to three drinks in an hour. At this stage, a person typically feels “tipsy,” and may have “a slower reaction time and lowered inhibitions.” While some people may still be below the legal level of intoxication at this stage, many people are not. Accordingly, if you feel tipsy, there is a high likelihood that you are too drunk to drive.
  • Excitement stage of intoxication (BAC between 0.09 and .25 percent): at this stage of intoxication, a person clearly is “drunk.” It usually results from having anywhere from 2 to five drinks—depending upon the person’s body size and type—in an hour. At this stage, a person can become excited easily, often will lose coordination, and may experience blurred vision or a loss of balance. At this stage of intoxication, any person is too drunk to drive.
  • Confusion stage (BAC between 0.18 and 0.30 percent): this stage of intoxication usually occurs when a person has had four to six drinks (or more) within an hour. This stage often results in confusion and may lead to a “black out” or loss of consciousness.

Additional stages of intoxication can put a person at risk of serious bodily injury or death. It is important to know that men and women typically become intoxicated at different rates, and a small person who weighs little can become too drunk to drive after having more than one glass of wine, while a larger person may have a BAC below the legal limit after consuming two drinks.

Contact a DUI Attorney in Fort Wayne

Drunk driving crashes can lead to serious and fatal injuries. If you have questions about filing a claim, you should talk with a drunk driving accident attorney in Fort Wayne as soon as you can. Contact Delventhal Law Office LLC for more information.


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