Alcohol and Drug Use: DUI Prevention

Statistics

Statistics often substantiate causation better than anything else. Driving statistics show the devastating effects alcohol has on a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. The following are relevant statistics from the NHTSA (some are consistent from year to year and decade to decade):

Roughly 40% of those driving after midnight on weekends are DUI.

  1. There is a DUI arrest rate of one in every 143 licensed drivers in the U.S.
  2. Approximately 300,000 people are seriously injured annually in alcohol-related collisions.
  3. More than half of the people killed in alcohol-related collisions are drinking drivers, 20% passengers in the vehicle, and 17% occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians.
  4. Over 90% of drinking drivers attending alcohol treatment centers (i.e., AA) return within three years, indicating another DUI arrest.
  5. Between midnight and 4 a.m., approximately 80% of all fatally injured drivers have been drinking.
  6. Roughly 40% of drivers on the road after midnight on the weekends are over the .08% AC level, or DUI.
  7. The leading cause of death among teenagers is alcohol-related vehicle collisions. Drivers under 18 yrs. old have a risk of being involved in a fatal collision that is 2.5 times greater than that of the average driver.
  8. It has been estimated that a person arrested for his or her first DUI has been driving on the roads between 200-1200 times while intoxicated, without being arrested for DUI.
  9. Approximately 25% of every dollar spent on automobile insurance premium is allocated towards drunk driving related damages.
  10. Three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related collision at some point in their lives.
  11. In 2009, there were 806 traffic related deaths in the State of Arizona, and 261 were alcohol-related (according to the Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts).
  12. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes in the State of Arizona is $2,600,000,000.
  13. The most frequently committed violent crime in the United States is driving under the influence of alcohol, with more than 1.4 million arrests annually.
  14. Nationwide in 2009, there were 208 alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities per week (involving drivers with an AC level over .08%), 30 per day and 1 every 48 minutes.
  15. A driver with an AC level of .15% or higher is 300 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision.
  16. Each year one percent of all licensed drivers are arrested for driving under the influence; this is more than any other crime.
  17. Drivers with an AC level of .15% or higher account for nearly 2/3 of all alcohol-related fatalities.
  18. Each day eight people under the age of 21 die in an alcohol-related collision.
  19. Drivers between the age of 15 and 20 make up 6.3% of the total driving population, but they account for about 16% of the drivers in alcohol-related fatalities.
  20. College students spend $5.5 billion each year on alcohol. They typically spend more money each year on alcohol than they do at the college bookstore.
  21. It is estimated that one out of every 280 babies born today will die in an alcohol-related crash.
  22. The major cause of death for children 0 to 14 years of age is traffic collisions; of these traffic fatalities, about 14% are alcohol-related.

Positive Statistics

  1. According to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 27,052 lives were saved between 1975 and 2008 due to minimum drinking age laws.
  2. In 2009, 11,711 people died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, making up 34.6% of all traffic fatalities. This represented a decline of about 7.4% from 2008.
  3. From 1982 to 1997 the number of young drivers that died in an alcohol-related traffic crash where another young driver was involved decreased 62%.
  4. Due to new minimum drinking age laws, lower AC laws, and groups such as MADD and SADD, countless lives are being saved each year. By educating our children on the dangers of drinking and driving, we should be able to lower these numbers even more.

Holidays

There is a tendency for motorists to relax during holidays. The mind is at ease, and thoughts are on upcoming festivities. The truth, however, is that holidays are the most dangerous times to be on the road. People are drinking alcohol more, more chaos associated with children in the vehicle exists, and the overall driving task is made more difficult.

Statistics don’t lie…alcohol, motor vehicles, and people don’t mix!

*Sources of statistical information include the Arizona Department of Public Safety, NHTSA, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Signs of a DUI Driver

Alcohol often causes a person to drive abnormally on the road. It is a depressant that slows bodily functions. Reduced tension and lower inhibitions are common, causing the drinking driver to take risks he or she normally would not. Decision-making is also greatly altered, as clear and concise thought is difficult. In addition to breaking basic traffic laws, the impaired driver often exhibits the following driving traits:

Alcohol affects a person’s ability to decide right from wrong and judge safety in general.

  1. Speeding– Alcohol affects a person’s ability to decide right from wrong and judge safety in general. Speed is often increased, and unsafe chances behind the wheel are often taken.
  2. Driving Slowly– In a futile attempt to hide their intoxication, impaired drivers often drive substantially below the speed limit.
  3. Weaving– The drinking driver loses focus on the road and may fall asleep or simply lose control of the vehicle. Coordination begins to deteriorate, with weaving the most obvious and common driving trait.
  4. Lights– Alcohol adversely affects basic brain functions, such as memory. Turning on driving lights may be overlooked, resulting in a dangerous situation with a dark car on the road.
  5. Windows– The drinking driver often believes cold air will keep him or her awake while driving. An open car window in cold weather late at night is often a sure sign that the driver is intoxicated.
  6. Lane Straddling– Drinking drivers often use lane-dividing lines as guides to stay on the road. This is an obvious indication of an intoxicated driver, as your focus is lost and every attempt is made to stay on the road.
  7. Tailgating– Tailgating is a basic driving violation, but it is especially common with the drinking driver. Vision becomes impaired, depth is distorted, and the eyes react more slowly to lights.
  8. Turning Difficulty– A drinking driver may signal to turn one way and then erratically turn the other way. It is very common for the impaired driver to make unusually wide or narrow turns. Motor skills are at extremely diminished levels.

Symptoms of intoxication that police officers are taught to look for:

  • Flushed face
  • Bloodshot eyes (watery, red and/or glassy)
  • Scent of alcohol on breath
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty getting license out of wallet
  • Unable to comprehend the officer’s questions
  • Wobbling or staggering when getting out of vehicle
  • Swaying or instability when standing
  • Using the vehicle for support
  • Inappropriate attitude towards the police officer
  • Soiled or disorderly clothing
  • Stumbling when walking
  • Disorientation as to time and place
  • Unable to follow directions

Ways to Sober Up

There is no easy remedy for chronic or short-term abuse of alcohol. The only way to sober up is to allow the body time to absorb and dissipate the alcohol in the system, a process called oxidation. Food and coffee are often perceived as viable ways to dilute alcohol in the system, but they are misconceptions. Oxidation occurs in the liver, and nothing can be done to either slow down or speed up this process.

Sleep allows time for the body to absorb and dissipate the alcohol from the system.

Sleep and Time – As a depressant, alcohol usually induces sleep. Sleep allows time for the body to absorb and dissipate the alcohol from the system. Time allows the body to absorb the alcohol. The body can only oxidize one ounce of alcohol per hour, meaning an AC of .08% would require at least eight hours to be fully processed by the body.

SUMMARY… As of now, no one has discovered a quick way to extract alcohol from the body. Several problems occur when you consume too much alcohol. Alcohol concentrates in your inner ear and disturbs your sense of balance. Alcohol can trap needed nutrients and waste products in the liver, therefore inflaming the liver cells. Alcohol interferes with a phase of deep sleep, causing you to have a poor night’s rest. Alcohol also causes dehydration. Traditional remedies do not work. Coffee may give you a caffeine boost, but it will not ease the symptoms. Fruit juice may re-hydrate the body a bit, but it may upset your stomach, as will aspirin. Rest is the only way to repair the damage.

DUI Prevention

Having a designated driver ensures that possible drunk drivers will not be on the road.

Designated Driver Program – The designated driver program was developed to help deter drinking and driving while encouraging sober, designated drivers. One person in a group is discouraged from drinking alcoholic beverages and made responsible for the rest of the group. This person will drive the others home, ensuring that those who may be intoxicated and dangerous will not be on the roads.

Designated drivers often receive support from the establishments where they and their friends drink and eat, and sometimes they receive complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and food. Some of the requirements to participate as a designated driver include:

  • Must possess a valid driver’s license.
  • Must be in a group of two + people.
  • Must identify self verbally.
  • Must not consume any alcoholic beverage throughout the evening.
  • Should be at least 21 years of age.
  • Must understand that management reserves the right to refuse service to anyone at anytime.

A driver’s use of drugs can also create significant problems on the road.

These programs have helped contribute to a decline over the last 10 years in DUI-related deaths. The drinker often cannot consciously help him or herself and needs a friend to step forward. Designated Drivers Save Lives!

Other Drugs

A driver’s use of drugs other than alcohol (cocaine, marijuana, and some over-the-counter drugs to name a few) can also create significant problems on the road. Any two or more drugs taken at the same time may cause a reaction called synergism. This reaction sometimes enhances the effects of one or more of the drugs. If you combine any amount of alcohol and drugs that potentially affects your driving ability, you are not only dangerous but IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW.

Cannabis
Type What is it called? What does it look like? How is it used?
Marijuana Pot, Reefer, Grass, Weed, Dope, Ganja, Mary Jane, Sinsemilla Dried parsley, with stems and/or seeds; rolled into cigarettes Smoked or eaten
Tetrahydrocannabinol THC Soft gelatin capsules Taken orally
Hashish Hash Brown or black cakes or balls Smoked or eaten
Hashish Oil Hash Oil Concentrated syrupy liquid varying in color from clear to black. Smoked (mixed with tobacco)

The use of cannabis may impair or reduce short-term memory and comprehension, alter your sense of time, and reduce the ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination, such as driving a car. Marijuana can also produce paranoia and psychosis. The use of cannabis has both negative physical and mental effects. Physical effects of cannabis include a substantial increase in the heart rate, bloodshot eyes, a dry mouth and throat, and increased appetite. Because users often inhale the unfiltered smoke deeply and then hold it in their lungs as long as possible, marijuana is extremely damaging to the lungs.

Cocaine
Type What is it called? What does it look like? How is it used?
Cocaine Coke, Snow, Nose candy, Flake, Blow, Big C, Lady, White, Snowbirds White crystalline powder Inhaled, injected
Crank Cocaine Crack, rock, freebase White to tan pellets or crystalline rocks that look like soap Smoked

Cocaine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Immediate effects of cocaine use include dilated pupils and elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. The use of crack or freebase is extremely addictive, and the effects are felt within ten seconds. The physical effects include dilated pupils, increased pulse rate, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, tactile hallucinations, paranoia, and seizure. The use of cocaine or crack can cause death by cardiac arrest or respiratory failure after just one use.

Other Stimulants
Type What is it called? What does it look like? How is it used?
Amphetamines Speed, Uppers, Ups, Black beauties, Pep pills, Copilots, Bumblebees, Hearts, Benzedrine, Dexedrine, Footballs, Biphetamine Capsules, pills, tablets Taken orally, injected, inhaled
Methamphetamines Crank, Crystal meth, Crystal methedrine, Speed White powder, pills, rock that resembles a block of paraffin Taken orally, injected, inhaled
Additional Stimulants Ritalin, Cylert, Preludin, Didrex, Pre-State, Voranil, Sandrex, Plegine Pills or capsules Taken orally, injected

The use of stimulants can cause an increase in heart and respiratory rates, elevated blood pressure, a loss of appetite, and dilated pupils. Large doses of stimulants will cause irregular heartbeat, tremors, loss of coordination, and even physical collapse. Long-term use of stimulants can cause an amphetamine psychosis that includes hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.

Depressants
Type What is it called? What does it look like? How is it used?
Barbiturates Downers, Barbs, Blue devils, Red devils, Yellow jacket, Yellows, Nembutal, Tuinals, Seconal, Amytal Red, yellow, blue, or red and blue capsules Taken orally
Methaqualone Quaaludes, Ludes, Sopors Tablets Taken orally
Tranquilizers Valium, Librium, Miltown, Serax, Equanil, Tranxene Tablets or capsules Taken orally

The effects of depressants are similar to those of alcohol. Large doses of depressants can cause respiratory depression, coma, and death. The combination of depressants and alcohol can multiply the effects of the drugs, increasing the risks. The regular use of depressants will cause physical and psychological addiction. Babies born to mothers addicted to depressants can have birth defects and behavioral problems.

Hallucinogens
Type What is it called? What does it look like? How is it used?
Phencyclidine PCP, Hog, Angel dust, Loveboat, Lovely, Killer Weed Liquid, white crystalline powder, pills, capsules Taken orally, injected, smoked (sprayed on joints or cigarettes)
Lysergic acid diethylamide LSD, Acid, Microdot, White lightning, Blue heaven, Sugar cubes Colored tablets, blotter paper, clear liquid, thin squares of gelatin Taken orally, licked off paper, gelatin and liquid can be put in the eyes
Mescaline and Peyote Mesc, Buttons, Cactus Hard brown discs, tablets, capsules Discs-chewed, swallowed, or smoked.Tablets and capsules taken orally
Psilocybin Magic mushrooms, ‘shrooms Fresh or dried mushrooms Chewed and swallowed

Mixing the use of hallucinogens with driving is an extremely dangerous practice. The use of most hallucinogens interrupts the functions of the neocortex, which is the part of the brain that controls the intellect and keeps instincts in check. Time and body movement are slowed down. Muscular coordination worsens and senses are dulled. The physical effects of LSD include dilated pupils, elevated body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and tremors.

Narcotics
Type What is it called? What does it look like? How is it used?
Heroin Smack, Horse, Mud, Brown sugar, Junk, Black tar, Big H White to dark-brown powder or tar-like substance Injected, smoked or inhaled
Codeine Empirin compound with codeine, Tylenol with codeine, Codeine in cough medicine Dark liquid varying in thickness, capsules, tablets Taken orally, injected
Morphine Pectoral syrup White crystals, hypodermic tablets, or injectable solutions Taken orally, injected, or smoked
Opium Paregoric, Dover’s powder, Parepectolin Dark brown chunks, powder Smoked, eaten or injected
Meperidine Pethidine, Demerol, Mepergan White powder, solution, tablets Taken orally, injected
Other narcotics Percocet, Percodan, Tussionex, Fentanyl, Darvon, Talwin, Lomotil Tablets or capsules Taken orally, injected

Narcotics cause an initial feeling of euphoria that is often followed by drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. An overdose may produce slow and shallow breathing, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and possibly death. A tolerance to narcotics comes very quickly, and dependency is very likely. Addiction in pregnant women can lead to premature, stillborn, or addicted infants who experience severe withdrawal symptoms.

Narcotics
Type What is it called? What does it look like? How is it used?
Analog of Fentanyl (Narcotic) Synthetic heroin, China white White powder Inhaled, injected
Analog of Meperidine (Narcotic) MPTP (New heroin), MPPP, synthetic heroin White powder Inhaled, injected
Analog of Amphetamines or Methamphetamines (Hallucinogens) MDMA (Ecstasy, XTC, Adam, Essence), MDM, STP, PMA, 2, 5-DMA, TMA, DOM, DOB, EVE White powder, tablets, or capsules Taken orally, injected, or inhaled
Analog of Phencyclidine (PCP) PCPy, PCE White powder Taken orally, injected, or smoked

You can be convicted of DUI for driving under the influence of an over-the-counter drug.

The law defines illegal drugs by their chemical formulas. To get around these legal restrictions, chemists have modified the molecular structure of certain illegal drugs to produce similar drugs known as designer drugs. These drugs can be several hundred times stronger than the drugs they are designed to imitate. Use of designer drugs can cause uncontrollable tremors, drooling, impaired speech, paralysis, irreversible brain damage, nausea, blurred vision, chills or sweating, faintness, anxiety, depression, and paranoia.

Over-the-Counter Drugs

Over-the-counter drugs can cause similar reactions to many of the drugs listed above. You may experience drowsiness, lack of attentiveness, confusion, loss of decision-making ability, and altered vision. Always read and follow the instructions and warning labels before taking any medication. Read all labels on drug containers. You can be convicted of DUI for driving under the influence of an over-the-counter drug.