Impaired Driving in Virginia – Ten Questions and Answers
We all know it’s illegal and potentially dangerous to drive while intoxicated. But there’s still quite a lot of ignorance about the laws in Virginia. For instance, I doubt if many people know you can be arrested with a zero blood/alcohol level if you are driving after taking illicit drugs.
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about drunk driving, courtesy of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
1 How Extensive is the Problem of Drunk Driving?
Every year there are over 1 million arrests each year for DUI nationally. Even if a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below the legal limit (0.08 percent in Virginia), his or her ability to drive a car safely may still be impaired.
2 How Can You Help Prevent Drunk Driving?
Never drive after drinking and do not ride as a passenger with a driver who has been drinking. Volunteer to be a designated driver, call a taxi yourself or stay the night where you are if you have been drinking. Just don’t get behind the wheel.
3 How Can I Be a Responsible Host at a Party?
- Make sure each group of guests has a designated driver.
- Collect the car keys from guests as they arrive and never give back keys to someone who is intoxicated.
- Have a responsible bartender at a social function.
- Serve food before serving drinks.
- Offer alcohol-free drinks as an alternative.
- Stop serving alcohol a matter of hours before the party ends.
- Call a taxi for guests who appear to be intoxicated or offer them a place to stay the night.
4 What is the Definition of “Drinking in Moderation” ?
Never have more than one drink an hour
Don’t drink more than two drinks per day for men,
one per day for women
Do not drink alcohol more than four days per week.
5 Which Age Group Has the Most Drunk Diving Crashes?
According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, 21-34 year old drunk drivers account for about half of all alcohol-related fatal crashes.
6 What About Driving Under the Influence of Drugs?
A person does not have to be drinking to be arrested for a DUI in Virginia. Drivers can be arrested for DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.00 percent if police establish proof that the impairment is caused by illicit drug use. More younger drivers are likely to be using drugs. About 13 percent of arrests are drivers aged 16-20.
7 – Why Is The Term “Impaired Driving” Frequently Used, Rather Than “Drunk Driving”?
Drunk driving usually refers to driving with a blood alcohol concentration which is at a level where a person can be arrested for DUI (0.08 in Virginia). Impaired driving means that the driver’s skills such as his or her judgment, coordination and response time are affected even before the BAC reaches 0.08 percent. It also refers to the fact that other drugs, including some prescription drugs, medications available over the counter, and illicit drugs, can affect driving.
8 – How Can You Protect Yourself Against an Impaired Driver?
You can never fully protect yourself against the irrational acts of a drunk driver but there are several things you can do to protect yourself, namely:
- Wear a seat belt make sure that all your passengers are buckled as well.
- Avoid being on the road when drunk drives are more likely to be out and about. The peak times for drunk driving crashes are between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekends.
- If you see an impaired driver on the highway, keep your distance and pull over in a safe place. If you are driving in Virginia, dial 911 or #77 to report the driver to police.
9 – Does the type of Alcohol Affect Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) ?
No. A typical drink equals about half an ounce of alcohol. This is the approximate amount of alcohol found in:
- A single shot of distilled spirits, or
- A single 5-ounce glass of wine, or
- One 12-ounce beer.
10 – What Factors Affect BAC?
How fast a person’s BAC rises varies with a number of different factors:
- The number of drinks you have consumed.
- How fast the alcohol is consumed. When alcohol is consumed quickly, you will reach a higher BAC than when it is imbibed over a longer period of time.
- Your gender. Women have less water and more body fat per pound of body weight than men. Alcohol does not go into fat cells as easily as other cells, so more alcohol lingers more in the blood of women.
- Your weight. The heavier you are, the more water is present in your body. This water dilutes the alcohol and lowers the BAC.
- Food in your stomach. Absorption of alcohol will be slowed if you’ve had a snack.