Becoming too drunk to drive can happen faster than you think

The impairment experiment

Watch our ‘wet lab’ participants show how alcohol affects everyone differently

Are you okay to drive? You’ve probably heard someone ask this question toward the end of a night out. Whether you’ve had a lot to drink or even just a little — the wrong answer could have a serious impact.

So when it comes to drinking, how much is too much? We took a group of volunteers to an alcohol impairment workshop called a wet lab to find out. The results might surprise you.

The role of wet labs.

Wet labs show everyone involved, from volunteer drinkers to police officers, that when it comes to drinking and driving, what’s legal isn’t always what’s safe. Our volunteers learned that even a small amount of alcohol slowed their reaction times and made them unsafe to drive.

Wet labs are a controlled environment where police officers learn to identify the visual and physical cues of alcohol impairment. This helps them keep impaired drivers off the road so we can all get home safely.

Do you know your limits?​

Here’s the thing, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .079 is the legal limit. Once you’ve reached .08, you’re past the legal limit and will be arrested if pulled over. But that doesn’t mean you’re okay to drive before then. Everyone’s tolerance level is different, and it’s different on any given day. You could be drunk enough to need a ride home well under the legal limit. So when you find yourself sharing one too many secrets at the bar, it’s probably time to call for a ride home. 

We all know the signs of drunkenness:

  • Flushed face
  • Trying to get the bar to join your karaoke rendition of Toto’s Africa
  • Laughing more often
  • Slurred speech
  • Trying to get the bartender’s number
  • Getting wobbly/feeling unbalanced
  • Feeling the urge to text an ex

When you see these signs in yourself or your friends, it’s time to get a safe ride home.

Meet Will.

He thinks he can pass a sobriety test above the legal limit. Spoiler alert: He can’t.

Meet Kayla.

She learns why drinking and driving is dangerous… even if you’re under the limit.

Meet Trevor.

He shows us what “too drunk to drive” looks and sounds like.

Meet EK.

She’s definitely calling a friend to drive her home tonight.

Meet Sam.

He knows when it’s time to get a sober ride home.

Speak up and protect your pals

On a night out, the last thing on anyone’s mind is getting a DUI. We’re all there to enjoy our time together. That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead to make sure everyone gets home safely. But sometimes when you’re out, things don’t always go according to plan. When they don’t, we need to say something and help our friends get a sober ride home. 

Here are some ways you can speak up when you know your friend shouldn’t drive home:

  • Politely tell them you can’t let them drive home because you care
  • Tell them you love them and you’ll call them a rideshare
  • Offer to take public transportation with them
  • Offer an alternative to driving, like walking or inviting them to stay over
  • Tell them you’ll pay for their rideshare
  • Offer to drive their car if you haven’t been drinking
  • Enlist another friend to help you convince them not to drive. There is strength in numbers

Keep in mind that even a small amount of alcohol can affect your friends’ driving abilities. In 2021, there were 2,266 people killed in alcohol-related crashes where a driver had a BAC within the legal limit. That’s why it’s so important to know your and your friends’ limits and drink responsibly. Becoming too drunk to drive looks different for each person, so don’t let your friends risk it. Bottom line is this: If you feel different, you drive different.

Meet Lisa.

She makes sure loved ones get a safe ride home after a night of drinking.

Be here tomorrow

Becoming too drunk to drive can happen sooner than we think. Sometimes all it takes is a drink or two. That’s why it’s important to plan for a sober ride home before you go out—no matter how much you plan on drinking.

Arrange a designated driver before you leave or make a plan to call a ride while you’re out. If you do need someone to pick you up, remember that the people you love will never be upset about helping keep you safe. They want you around today, tomorrow and well into the future.
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Each day, about 37 people in the United States are killed in drunk-driving crashes—that's one person every 39 minutes
Impaired driving crashes led to 110 fatalities in Idaho in 2022
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In 2022, 77% of passenger motor vehicle occupants killed in impaired driving crashes were not wearing a seat belt

Learn more about impaired driving

Together we can make the roads safer for everyone. Click below for more information about drinking and driving.

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