Drinking and Driving

It could happen to anyone. Even to you. You go to a party, meet friends, laugh, and have a whale of a time. Then it is time to go back home. You stumble to your car, get behind the wheel. You tell yourself you are not drunk, just pleasantly high. After all, you have had just a few

Drunk Driving Myth-Busters

There is one and only one truth you need to remember if you drive drunk: you are putting yours and well as other people’s life at risk. Irrespective of your age, gender, number of years of driving experience or “permissible” limit of drinks, drunk driving is not justified or excusable. Misguided by common myths and beliefs, we sometimes end up making an error injudgment and indulge in this life threatening activity. Let us learn the truth behind some common drunk driving myths:

Tricking The Alcohol Breath Analyzer Test: It is commonly believed that by eating onions, drinking mouth wash, chewing breath mints etc., you can beat the Breath Analyzer Test. Some will even swear by tricks like placing a penny in the mouth. However, repeated experiments show that these tricks do not work. It is advisable to not drink and drive instead of getting caught up in a situation which needs you to employ these fruitless tricks.

You Will Be Let Off The Hook Easy: As much as we would like to believe it, there is no easy way out if you caught driving under the influence. According to the general law, drunk driving is a punishable offence with penalties as high fines of upto Rs. 10,000 and imprisonment from 6 months to 4 years. With these laws getting stricter by the day, a smart choice would be to avoid driving while drunk instead of trying to cheat the system. 

You Can Handle Your Drinks: As much as we all like to trust our drinking capacity and excellent driving skills, being intoxicatedclouds our judgment and driving skills. According to survey statistics, over 70% of road accidents are because of drunk drivers, resulting in number of fatalities and serious injuries reaching lakhs. By choosing not to drive under the influence, you are making a safe choice not just for yourself but also making Indian roads a little less dangerous for everyone else too.

A Couple Of Drinks Will Not Affect You: The permissible Blood Alcohol Content limit is 0.03% or 30mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. While an average male can probably stay within this limit with 2 pints of beer, a smarter choice is to avoid risk and not drive if you have been drinking.

Quick Steps To Sober Up: Most of the commonly believed myths to sober up quickly, like drinking black coffee, dunking your head in cold water, or slapping your face etc., have been proven wrong time and again. Not only is it foolish to depend on such techniques, the unavoidable failure of these steps to sober you can lead to fatal results if you drive under the influence of alcohol. Our body takes about an hour to process 30 ml of alcohol. Therefore, to be able to drive without a clouded judgment, you should wait for at least 90 minutes after just 1 pint of beer. There are no shortcuts to quicken this process.

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How Alcohol Can Impair Your Driving Skills

Driving involves a combination of various basic motor skills which is used simultaneously by the driver. For safe driving, proper coordination and synchronisation of these skills is very necessary. At some point in time, every one of us has been advised not to drive under the influence of alcohol. But still, it seems that people do not understand it completely as to why they should not drive even when they do not “feel that drunk”.

Therefore, it is crucial for us to examine how alcohol can impair our driving skills and consequently cause unwanted accidents.

General effect of alcohol on body

Unlike any other consumable food substance, alcohol being water soluble does not get digested and within few minutes, it is carried to different parts of the body. When it reaches the brain, it can significantly impair your motor functions which are necessary for driving manoeuvres. More importantly, consumption of alcohol changes your mood, making you think you are absolutely fine when in actuality, you are heavily intoxicated.

Effect of Alcohol on Driving Skills

Safe driving requires proper functioning of the brain which controls our hands, legs and vision. Alcohol weakens their functions and causes difficulty in decision making. Influence of alcohol inhibits us to change our decision with changing situations.

Drinking can impair any or all of these crucial driving skills:

1. Impaired comprehension

Alcohol can make it difficult for you to interpret different signs and symbols on the road which is essential for your own safety and for others as well. Alcohol might confuse you very easily and leave you in a state where you might not be able to recognise or respond to emergency situations. For example, you might not be able to follow traffic signals, resulting in redundant risks.

2. Impaired Hearing and Vision

After consumption of alcohol, pupils dilate causing slowness in their reaction. This results in visibility problems at night due to the head light glare of the oncoming vehicles. The reduction in distance and depth perception also make it difficult to judge the speed of other cars on road. Alcohol also numbs your hearing senses making it difficult to detect the direction of the sound.

3. Impaired Coordination of motor skills

The motor functions like coordination of hand-eye-foot muscles weaken, resulting in the lack of control of the car speed and direction. You might have difficulty in maintaining a straight track on the road causing you to collide with other cars. Alcohol also damages you quick decision-making ability.

4. Impaired Judgment

Alcohol can severely impair your judgment while driving. You will be prone to wrong decisions at moments like: stopping at a specific point, taking sharp turns, and increasing or decreasing the speed of the vehicle.

5. Impaired Concentration

Alcohol directly affects your brain functions and does not let you concentrate. While drinking and driving you may have a flurry of thought which might distract you from the objects on road. Concentration is also affected due to a loss of hearing and vision.

Therefore, we can see that consumption of alcohol has major negative effects on our driving skills. By drinking and driving you can not only cause serious damage to yourself but also to others. So, as responsible citizens, we must always keep in mind the duties we have towards others and thus refrain from driving under the influence of alcohol.

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Drinking And Driving Laws In India

Alcohol is great. It helps you relax, let go and feel lighter. Alcohol keeps the party going. And it can even keep lots of after parties going. The real problem starts when the party ends. And trust me, the problem is pretty big.
See what we’re talking about here is the desire to drive a car after the party’s over. Drunk driving is a reason for a lot of sorrow in this world. When someone drives under the influence of alcohol they not only endanger their own life, but also the lives of others.

Let’s get one thing as clear as possible. Drunk driving is the worse possible thing you can do. And if you need any more incentive to not do it, let’s also tell you that it is a crime, which can land you into a lot of trouble. And if you need even more incentive to not do it, here are the laws concerned with drinking and driving in India.

Legal Age of Drinking

In our country, the legal age of drinking varies from state to state. Some allow drinking at the age of 18, while it can go as high as 25 in states like Delhi, Haryana, etc. Hence, the first thing you should definitely adhere to is the legal drinking age in your state.

Legal Alcohol Limit

The legal limit for alcohol in your blood stream is 30mg for every 100ml of blood. This is analysed using a breath analyser, and if you are driving with more than the legal limit of alcohol in your blood you are said to be driving under the influence of alcohol, hence drunk driving.

Punishment for Drunk Driving

The section of the Indian Law that deals with the issue of driving drug is Section 185 of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. This section classifies driving under the influence of alcohol a criminal offence in our country. The section also classifies drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs under the same category. In case the offender is a first time offender the punishment is a six months jail term and/or a fine of up to rupees two thousand. Any subsequent offence can land the offender a jail term of up to three years and/or a fine of up to rupees three thousand.

Section 185, Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
Here’s what the section actually says.

Driving by a drunken person or by a person under the influence of drugs. Whoever, while driving, or attempting to drive, a motor vehicle:

(a) has, in his blood, alcohol exceeding 30 mg. per 100 ml. of blood detected in a test by a breath analyser, or

(b) is under this influence of a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of exercising proper control over the vehicle, shall be punishable for the first offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both; and for a second or subsequent offence, if committed within three years of the commission of the previous similar offence, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to three thousand rupees, or with both. Explanation —For the purposes of this section, the drug or drugs specified by the Central Government in this behalf, by notification in the Official Gazette, shall be deemed to render a person incapable of exercising proper control over a motor vehicle.

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