Search Results for: know your limit


Source: Scottsdale Police Department

Major sporting events attract crowds and drinkers, which means that drunk driving isn’t far behind. To make the problem known, the Scottsdale Police Department conducted an educational program called “Know Your Limit” at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The program raises awareness of the prevalence of drunk driving by asking volunteers to blow into a breathalyzer. If the device reveals a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of over .08 – the legal limit for intoxication – they are given a card which outlines the penalties for drunk driving – which are stiff in Arizona.

The results of last week’s program are certainly noteworthy. Of 9026 people tested during the four days of the Phoenix Open:

  • 4.141 Were over .08
  • 271 were over .20 (2.5 times the legal limit)
  • 11 were over .30 (almost four times the legal limit)

Of those 4432 intoxicated people, 411 would have driven home had they not been alerted by the “Know Your Limit” program. That’s 9.2 percent.

We’ll never know how many people at the event drank, declined to be tested, and then drove home. But it’s frightening to think that there might have over 400 additional drunks on the road – some of them very seriously drunk – had they not been alerted.

It’s called “Know Your Limit” for a reason. Most people don’t know their alcohol limits. They don’t know how many drinks it takes to get to .08, and they don’t know that the buzz they’re feeling is more than enough to compromise their faculties and make them a hazard on the road.

To those who think that it’s only incorrigible, hard-core alcoholics who drive drunk, these results should will be a surprise. Not too many hard-core drunk drivers volunteer for breath tests at police-staffed kiosks. They are mostly people out for a good time who have no idea that they have drunk too much to be fit to drive. We hope the Scottsdale Police gave them a clue. And we hope the information gets passed on to the 9.2% of drinkers who still think they can drive. Good advice: know your limit.

couple-of-drinksIf social drinkers measure their alcohol intake, it’s almost invariably in units of one drink. And that’s not a bad way to keep track, as long as nothing much is at stake.

A drink, in the US, comprises roughly 14 grams of alcohol – a measurement no one uses outside of government agencies. That amount of alcohol will be found in:

  • A 12-ounce can or bottle of beer
  • A 5-ounce glass of wine
  • A 1.5 ounce shot of spirits

three-drinksWhy do we care? The only time that measuring alcohol intake matters is when the effects of alcohol matter. And one place it really matters is behind the wheel.

Not everyone reacts to alcohol in the same way. We all know how some people can drink other people under the table. One’s resistance or susceptibility to alcohol – in other words, one’s drinking limit – depends on a number of factors:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Size and physical condition
  • Fullness of stomach
  • How fast the alcohol is consumed

I-can-driveThere are other factors too, but the upshot is that no two people react to alcohol the same way. If a 25 year-old man and a 65-year-old woman each had three drinks, their evenings might shape up quite differently.

This unpredictability makes it dangerous to ply guests with even one drink if they intend to drive. Alcohol might have a much stronger effect on them than anyone expected. Just because you feel all right an hour after one drink doesn’t mean that everyone is able to drive under those circumstances.

The safest course of action is not to drink and drive, and to have a designated driver or a ride ready for a guest who needs it. It’s also advisable to know how much alcohol you can consume safely, and to remember that not everyone shares the same limit. Drinking reactions, like drinking preferences, are individual.


St. Patrick’s Day is popular with Americans, even those who have not a drop if Irish in their blood. The day is an excuse to wear green, sip green beer, dig up some Sligo fiddle tunes and even nibble some corned beef and cabbage. It’s not the cabbage that causes trouble, though: it’s the beer. The holiday is infamous for drinking, and worse, drinking and driving.

This might be a good time to inform revelers that Ireland itself is not a hospitable place for drunk drivers. Unlike the US, with its comparatively high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08, Ireland prosecutes anyone with a level of .05 or more for impaired driving. The usual punishment is a 2-year driving ban and a fine of 1,500 Euros.

Americans sometimes see Ireland as a nation of enthusiastic drinkers, with their Guinness and their Irish whiskey. But getting hammered and driving is not a fitting tribute to the Irish. They know better – hence their strict laws – and you should too.

This St. Patrick’s Day, make a plan. Line up a designated driver beforehand, or leave the car keys at home and take a taxi to wherever you’re celebrating. And don’t let any of your friends drive drunk either.

This March 17th, do like the Irish and show your friends a good time. But leave the wheels at home.


If you carpool, you place your trust in whoever is driving that day. Chances are you’ll get where you’re going, but you never know when the person whose turn it is to drive will show up tired, preoccupied – or drunk.

Self-driving cars will fix that. The ones Waymo are working on are already plying the roads of Phoenix. More important, the company says it will be ready to start a commercial service next year, offering self-driving vehicles for commuting and running errands.

Recently Waymo has been publicizing its 360° experience, which gives passengers a panoramic view of the road around the vehicle. The purpose of the feature is to make riders comfortable with the idea of being ferried around by a van with no driver – something that still feels creepy to most people.

But the more interesting bit of news is the fact that the company is about to put the autonomous vehicles in general service.

An End to Drunk Driving?

There’s little doubt that a self-driving vehicle is superior to a human. Even if the cars aren’t perfect – and no technology is at first – they will definitely be more reliable than humans at the task of driving. They devote 100 percent of their attention to the road, are never tired or drunk, and don’t have any wrong ideas about the rules of the road. They never get angry or impulsive.

Whether humans will accept autonomous cars is another story. Crashes with self-driving cars get a lot of press. Once a fatality occurs – and it will happen – the real controversy will begin. Proponents will point to statistics – the number of fatalities will be much lower in percentage terms – but statistics don’t always win the battle.

Take It Slow

Until Waymo’s self-driving cars are proven safe and put in service, we have other means of keeping drivers, passengers and pedestrians from harm. We have drunk driving laws, BAC limits, and ignition interlocks to prevent people from starting their vehicles when they have been drinking.

Perhaps they won’t be needed one day. That’s fine. But for now, let’s keep at the fight against drunk driving. The time when all cars are autonomous is a long way off. In the meantime, it’s up to plain old, low-tech humans to enforce ignition interlock laws and keep the roads safe.


Source: Scottsdale Police Department

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has been doling out wads of cash lately. The recipients are agencies that promote highway safety in all its forms. Recently the Marana Police Department received, among others, a $15,000 grant to expand its programs that raise awareness of the effects of alcohol.

It’s called the Know Your Limit grant, after the program of that name. The program stations officers at large gatherings where people drink, such has festivals and sports events such as last year’s Phoenix Open. Passersby are asked if they know what their blood alcohol limit is. Then they’re given breathalyzer tests to see if their estimate is correct.

It rarely is, and many people find they’re over the .08 legal intoxication limit. The program can be a revelation to many drinkers who don’t realize how strong alcohol is or how impaired they actually are.

Programs like Know Your Limit are vital because people usually estimate if they are “okay to drive” based on faulty criteria. If they have only had one or two drinks, or are steady on their feet and can speak without slurring their words, they assume they’re sober enough to be on the road.

In fact, almost any amount of alcohol causes some impairment, and that impairment is very much in evidence well below the .08 threshold. If, thanks to the Know Your Limit grant, a few thousand citizens of Marana get a true picture of how alcohol affects them, and as a result some of them might they skip driving. That $15K will then translate to lives saved. Our thanks to GOHS for doing Marana a solid.

North Carolina DWIIt’s not easy being a judge. When the verdict has come back guilty, it’s your job to determine the punishment. The law sets down guidelines, but you are there to determine how serious the offense was, and if the sentence you deliver will deter others from the same crime. It’s not easy.

In North Carolina DWI court, the law specifies aggravating factors – factors which, if present, will add to the severity of a DWI and likely add to one’s punishment.

Grossly Aggravating Factors

  • A prior DWI conviction within seven years of the one in for which the offender is being sentenced for
  • A DWI conviction after the one in question, but before the sentencing
  • A prior DWI conviction in district court which was appealed in superior court and was withdrawn or remanded back to district court, and a new sentencing hearing has not been held
  • Driving during the offense with a suspended license
  • Causing serious injury due to impaired driving during the offense
  • Driving during the offense with a child under 18, a person with mental development of a child under 18, or a person with a physical disability preventing unaided exit from the vehicle

Aggravating Factors

  • Gross impairment of faculties, or driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or more
  • Especially reckless or dangerous driving
  • Negligent driving that leads to an accident
  • Driving with a revoked license
  • Speeding while fleeing or attempting to avoid capture
  • Speeding at least 30 mph over legal limit
  • Passing a stopped school bus in violation of applicable statute
  • Other non-DWI motor vehicle offenses or combination of DWI and non-DWI offenses, under certain conditions

How Gross is the Outcome?

North Carolina DWI law specifies punishments in levels. You can look up the detail levels here. But the gist of it is, if you’ve got 3 or more grossly aggravating factors, you’re looking at a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. The levels go down if you have fewer aggravating factors. And yes, there are mitigating factors as well to counterbalance the black marks.

North Carolina is telling us that drunk driving, while a crime, is not black-and-white. Just how serious a crime it is depends on how completely you disregarded the safety of others, and how often you have repeated the offense.  There is no room for drunk drivers on the road, but there is some leeway for justice in North Carolina courts.

don't let your teen drink and drive

The sad fact is: young people drink and drive. More teens die in car crashes than any other way – about six every day in the United States. Almost a quarter million people aged 16 through 19 are sent to emergency rooms with motor vehicle injuries.

Teens are more likely to drink and drive than most groups, and worse, teens who drink are more likely to get into collisions than older drunk drivers. Parents, then, have an important role to play in the safety of their kids. It’s up to them to do everything they can to discourage their teens from driving while impaired. Here are 6 things you need to do to keep your teen safe.

1. Lay Down the Rules

Some household rules are implied, some are stated and then forgotten or ignored. The rule against driving under the influence must be set in stone. Ask your child to repeat these:

  • Never drink or use drugs and drive
  • Never ride with someone else who has been drinking or using drugs
  • Never allow a friend who is under the influence to get behind the wheel

2. Make Sure They Understand the Law

The legal BAC (blood alcohol concentration) limit for DUI is .08 for adults, but .02 or even less for people under 21. Penalties for underage DUI are stiff: in many states there are mandatory jail terms, as well as stiff fines, and license suspensions that can last years.  Other crimes like being a minor in possession of alcohol (it’s illegal for a minor to possess alcohol in all 50 states), using a fake ID, and child endangerment (if the teen has underage friends in the vehicle).

In short, the law is very hard on teens who drink. They should not expect to worm out of the consequences.

3. Provide Them a Way to Get Home Anytime

If your teen has been partying and calls you up because they need a ride home, the best policy is suspend the lecture until the next day. Pick them up or arrange a sober ride without any immediate drama. It’s important that your teen is never afraid to call for a ride, because the stakes are high

4. Understand the Power of Peer Pressure

Yes, they would jump off a bridge if everyone else did it. Peer pressure is one of the principal motive forces in a young person’s life, and you won’t easily overcome it. Your teen might be reluctant to call for a ride because friends are around, so arrange a secret code – a spoken or texted phrase that means, “I need a ride home.” Don’t worry that you’re sending the wrong signal. Your teens do lots of things you don’t approve of, and they know it. But the real signal you’re sending is that you’re putting their safety above everything else.

5. Talk With Your Teen, and Listen to Them

Keep lines of communication open. That’s not always as easy as it sounds, but if you listen to their problems, they are more likely to listen to you when you do talk, and there’s a better chance they’ll see your side of things.

6. Set an Example

You can easily throw all this work out the window if you drink and drive. Your own behaviour is the basis for what your teens do.

teens need an ignition interlockIt’s not easy being the parent of a teen. Every day can be a battle of wills, and your concern for their safety isn’t always appreciated. And when they drive, your worries multiply. Teens take risks: they speed, they are easily distracted, and too often they drink and drive.

Some parents have found a way to ease their worries: they install an ignition interlock device in their teen’s car. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

You might be aware that ignition interlocks, also called IIDs (ignition interlock devices) or BAIIDs (breath alcohol ignition interlock device) are often ordered for those convicted of drunk driving. In fact, 26 states now mandate the devices for all drunk driving offenses, including first offenses, and more states are following suit.

A Voluntary Ignition Interlock Makes Sense for Teens

It’s possible to contact an ignition interlock provider and have one installed on any vehicle, so that it can’t be started if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration above around .02 – far below the legal limit for drunkenness. Here’s why it makes sense to have one installed in your teen’s car:

  • Safety. Having an interlock means that the driver of your teen’s car will not be impaired. Since younger drivers are the most likely to get into collisions – and the most likely to drink and drive – your teen will be much safer in an interlock-equipped vehicle.
  • Peace of Mind. As a parent, you can’t help worrying about your teenager when they’re out driving. With the IID, you know that one danger has been eliminated.
  • Lower insurance costs. Depending on your state, the installation of an ignition interlock might get you a break on your insurance, which would be welcome considering how teen drivers are expensive to insure.
  • Instilling good habits. Having an interlock device teaches teens to think about driving if they do have alcohol. While providing alcohol to minors is illegal, teens will find ways to drink, and at least they’ll learn that driving is out of the question.

It’s not hard at all to have an ignition interlock installed in your teenager’s car. Just contact your provider and ask for a voluntary installation. The provider will install the device and train your teen and anyone else in its operation.

Life is chancy enough, and teens face enough risks on the road, without adding drunk driving to the mix. Consider being a champion parent and having this life-saving device installed in your teen’s car today.

tamper-with-ignition-interlocksYou’re the type who doesn’t like to play by the rules when you drive. You ride in the HOV lane even when you’re alone in the vehicle. You consider a speed limit a casual suggestion. And you chose to drink and drive, which is why you now have an ignition interlock on your dashboard.

At this point, most people are concerned about obeying the rules and getting through their ignition interlock program without incident. But not you. As a never-play-by-the-rules type, you’re thinking: how can I bypass this device?

Before you bring out your soldering iron and wire strippers, you should know that it can’t really be done. Providers see people try to tamper with ignition interlocks from time to time, but the attempts are not successful, and they end in heartache.  Here’s the lowdown:

What they try: Clipping some wires and disablng it.
What it does: Keeps the interlock from asking for a test.
Does it work? No.
Why it’s dumb:  Even if you managed to do this, the device will record the disconnection, and you’ll be in violation. And you can’t hide it, because the installation uses tamper-evident tape on the wires to show that you’ve been snipping.

What they try: Run a wire from the battery to the starter.
What it does:  Starts the car without needing a breath test.
Does it work? NO
Why it’s dumb: When you start without testing, you’ll record a violation. After a few minutes the interlock will still require a rolling re-test, which you’ll have to either fail or ignore. Either way, it’s a violation, and the data log would show that you drove too many miles without a test.  Your bypass attempt will be passed on to the authorities.

What can happen? Depends on your state. In North Carolina it’s a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a fine and a jail sentence of up to 120 days. In Arizona, the jail term can be 6 months. The offense is in the same category as possession of stolen goods or larceny – not good company to keep.

So if you’re the type who sees every restriction as an opportunity to cheat, you should think twice before joining the legion of people who have been caught trying to tamper with ignition interlocks. It’s been tried, and it doesn’t pay. The way to “beat” an ignition interlock program is to drive sober. It’s not sneaky, but it works.

limit-04-second-duji-north-carolinaThe number .08 is well known all over the US as the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers. Push the needle above that on your breath test, and you have a date with a judge.

But North Carolina has an extra provision you might not have heard about. If you have a DWI conviction on your record, your limit becomes .04%. That’s just two drinks for an average 160-pound male, and less than two for a 120-pound female.

At first this might seem pretty strict, but it’s important to know that at .04 BAC (blood alcohol concentration) you are certainly under the influence of alcohol, though not intoxicated. At .04 your inhibitions are lower, and you might have some feelings of euphoria – probably not the best attitude for driving. More important, your sense of caution is lowered and your concentration is impaired, neither of which makes driving any safer.

So why are previous DWI offenders the only ones to face the .04 limit? The answer is that it is a compromise, like all drunk driving laws. Imposing an .04 limit for everyone would mean that few people would be able to drink even that one glass of wine with dinner and be sure they were safe from arrest. That is not deemed practical in the US.

Some countries do have zero tolerance: Brazil, Hungary, and Saudi Arabia can arrest drivers with any alcohol in their system at all. A level of .02 is the limit in China and Sweden. But in the US the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for a reduction to .05 for the national limit, and got little support. Even MADD called the lower limit unrealistic.

However, persons who already have a DWI under their belt have shown a serious lack of judgment, enough so that the state of North Carolina deems the lower limit justified. At that limit, almost any drinking is discouraged. There is some leeway, but two good drinks will probably get you arrested unless you allow a lot of time for the effects to dissipate. And that, of course is the idea.

North Carolina’s DWI laws are on the complex side, and the best time to comprehend their ins and outs is not while you are facing a drunk driving charge. So stay away from alcohol while driving, and you can pay the numbers no heed.

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