How to drink and drive

The new tougher drinking and driving laws have begun in Nevada. Instead of being considered legally intoxicated at .10 percent alcohol, people who get caught driving with .08 percent alcohol in their blood will have a large piece of their life ruined.

People have already begun to calculate how many drinks fewer they can have in order to drive legally. Don’t fall prey to what is often false and misleading information. Similar amounts of alcohol can affect drinkers in different ways on different days. Don’t believe the online blood-alcohol concentration calculators, either. The two top-rated calculators say a 200-pound person is legally sober enough to drive even when he or she has had four drinks in one hour. That’s baloney.

Even the drink amounts on these online-BAC calculators are misleading. For example, a beer is said to be 12 ounces—a can- or bottle-sized serving—although beer is almost as often served in a 16-ounce pint glass in these days of microbrews. Mixed drinks are usually “free poured” outside the casinos, which also often results in larger than expected amounts of alcohol consumed.

The risks of drinking and driving are too great. If there is going to be drinking, the cost of a cab, like the cost of tipping the bartender, should be included in the night’s budget. Too many people are killed every year by people who were told they were sober enough to drive.

The point of this editorial is not to denigrate bartenders, drinkers or bars. It is simply to inform people that there is a reasonable and accurate standard to judge when it’s OK to drive. If you are going to drink, even two drinks, don’t drive. If you must drive after drinking, give it an hour for each ounce of alcohol you consume—that’s conservatively about an hour and a half per drink. Also remember, a night’s sleep doesn’t necessarily put you in the clear. The rules are the same whether you are awake or asleep: an hour and a half per drink. If you have a big night out at the clubs, and you only get a few hours sleep, as a hung-over driver, you can be just as legally drunk and dangerous as one who’s just driven away from the bar.