It’s the third installment of our “What Does It Mean?” blog series! In this series we explore some commonly-used phrases and dive into what they mean for Arkansas drivers. This week’s topic: “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.”
We can all agree that drunk driving is foolish and dangerous. If you need another reason to steer clear, it’s also illegal! Learn more about drunk driving laws in Arkansas here: Drinking and Driving Laws in Arkansas.
However, the statement that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” may give you pause. What is buzzed driving? Is it really as dangerous as driving while intoxicated? We’re glad you asked!
How does Buzzed Driving differ from Drunk Driving?
While each state determines its own rules and regulations for drinking and driving, one thing is consistent across the nation: Drivers are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level (BAC) is .08 or higher. It’s illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to get behind the wheel with a BAC of .08 or higher.
The term “buzzed” is widely used in our culture. It describes someone who has been drinking and who feels the effects of alcohol, but who is not legally “drunk.” A person whose BAC is between .01 and .07 might be “buzzed.”
What’s the big deal about Buzzed Driving?
It’s important to understand how we arrived at the .08 BAC limit. This became a standard across the United States in the 1990s. Until then, many states had higher limits, and a few had no laws to govern drunk driving at all!
Scientists determined that when blood alcohol levels reached .08, the risk of crashing increased exponentially. At this level, every aspect of driving is impaired: concentration, hand-eye coordination, speed control, depth perception, and the ability to accurately process information.
But .08 is not a magic number. The line between “buzzed” driving and drunk driving is dangerously thin. Even a small amount of alcohol can impact a person’s ability to drive safely.
According to this article from the NHTSA, drivers can be impaired at every level of alcohol consumption:
- .02 BAC – Decline in visual function and the ability to perform two tasks at once
- .05 BAC – Reduced coordination, ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering
- .08 BAC – Concentration, short-term memory loss, speed control, reduced information processing capability, impaired perception
- .10 BAC – Reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately
Because impaired driving remains a huge problem in the United States, organizations including the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have recommended lowering the legal limit to .05 BAC.
Is Buzzed Driving really dangerous?
In a word? Absolutely.
This was confirmed in a study at the University of California – San Diego. Researchers focused on the role that buzzed drivers played in wrecks across the nation. Here’s what they found:
- Drivers with a BAC of just .01 were 46 percent more likely to cause wrecks than sober drivers.
- The risk of causing a wreck increased steadily from .01 to .24, confirming that “there is no sudden transition when comparing a buzzed driver to a drunk driver.”
How can I avoid Buzzed Driving?
You can adopt one simple policy to ensure you don’t endanger yourself or others on the road: If you are drinking, do not get behind the wheel. This is the message that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” hopes to convey. Even if you feel in control, any amount of alcohol in your body can impair your driving.
Plan ahead. Make arrangements ahead of time for a sober friend to drive you, save the number of a taxi service in your contacts, carry bus fare, or download the Uber app. Many cities offer free ride services during a holiday weekend when drunk and buzzed drivers are likely to be on the road. Don’t trust yourself to make these decisions with a few drinks in your system.
Read the other articles in our “What Does It Mean?” series:
Injured by a Drunk or Buzzed Driver? We can help.
If you were the victim of an accident in which the other driver was drunk or buzzed, you may have legal rights to compensation. We know firsthand how devastating a car wreck can be; you may be facing serious personal injuries or property damage. The car wreck attorneys at Taylor King Law are here to help.
Call (870) 246-0505 or toll-free 1-800-CAR-WRECK (227-9732) today or visit our Drunk Driving Accidents Page to begin your FREE consultation. At Taylor King Law we’re on your side, by your side for the people of Arkansas.