There has always been some mysterious confusion between how much one can drink before they’re over the legal limit. The issue is simple, if you can only have a certain percentage of blood in your system to be considered a “safe driver” how does that translate to a bottle or pint of beer?
It’s all about BAC or Blood Alcohol Content but we’re not all chemists nor do we know how many liters of blood are in our system and how it effects our body. We do know, however, if you drink enough you’ll get dizzy, potentially dance on tables and have a high chance of making a fool out of yourself.
“If a person is not an experienced drinker, a lower BAC will affect them more than someone who has built up a tolerance. But a blood alcohol content of .40 is typically the lethal dose for more than 50% of adults.” (bloodalcoholcontent.org)
If someone is an inexperienced drinker they probably won’t handle the effects of alcohol like someone that has built up a tolerance (a professional drinker if you will). Now you’ve got to know your body, know your blood, be a good chemist and make clear judgments. It’s all so confusing.
In Britain they measure your intake in ‘units’ but the test is done in alcohol content within your blood, there isn’t a direct translation. A recent UK Reuters report states, “the blood alcohol level can be affected by such factors as an individual’s size, weight and metabolism, meaning there is no uniform measure.”
They go on to report:
“If an average-sized female motorist drinks two large glasses of wine during an evening out, then that is the equivalent of two-thirds of a bottle of wine. Whilst she may then feel ‘fine’ and wrongly assume that she has only had two units of alcohol, should she then drive home, she is extremely likely to be over the drink drive limit.”
So what is the solution to the problem? Many motorists in the UK are saying it may be best just to ban drinking before driving. There is no way to directly correlate the drinks you’ve had with the legal limit in a straight percentage with so many variables its best not to do it at all.
Perhaps, in the coming years, technology will advance to where a consumer grade breathalyzer is common place, cheap and readily available. Many are available in the market today but they are made with cheaper parts to reduce the overall cost, but it also results in more false positives which could be very costly as we all start calling the cabs to pick us up.
I don’t think Britain is alone in this problem, we have plenty of myths and ideas to answer the question “how many beers are allowed before I can’t drive anymore?” here in the United States. My rule has always been, one drink, wait an hour before driving but even that may be inaccurate depending on the bottle size, type of drink and if I’ve had anything to eat for a while.
Maybe zero tolerance is the right solution?