Alcohol Facts and Drunk Driving Statistics

In one of the earlier surveys conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were about 1.5 million DUI arrests in the United States (which is greater than the combined number of arrests for arson, burglary, robbery, and vehicle theft combined). In California, there are over 215,000 arrests for drunk driving. In the United States, there are about 13,000 deaths involving alcohol-impaired driving. Even more compelling, about 70 percent of all fatal crashes involve drunk drivers with no other vehicle involved. It has been reported that the time of the day when most fatalities involving a DUI occur is between midnight and 3 a.m. What is even more concerning is the expectation that 30 percent of the population will be involved in an alcohol-related accident during our lifetime.

Identity of Alcoholic Beverages:

  1. Beer is made from cereal grains (corn, rice) and malt. Malt is sprouted Barley. The enzymes in the malt convert the grain to sugar, then yeast changes the sugar to alcohol. Hops (the blossoms of the hop plant) are added to the mixture for taste. In the U.S. the alcohol content of beer is limited by law to 5 percent. If the alcohol content is above 5 percent it cannot be called beer. Mostly, this next level of alcohol content is called malt liquor.
  2. Malt liquor has an alcohol content of 5 percent to 7 percent.
  3. Wine is made from fruit and has an alcohol content of 8 percent to 14 percent.
  4. Fortified wine is wine mixed with brandy for higher alcohol content.
  5. Wine coolers made for young adults who are having their first experiences drinking alcohol (this is white wine + soda pop), because the transition from sweet-tasting pop to sweet-tasting wine is easy.

Liquors

  1. Vodka is manufactured in the U.S. and has no smell and no taste, and it is not aged. Those familiar with the subject contend there is no difference between expensive vodka and cheap vodka.
  2. Gin is vodka with Juniper berries added for flavor. Both vodka and gin are pure alcohol with water added.
  3. Rum comes from sugar cane.
  4. Bourbon is made from corn alcohol aged in charred oak barrels. Jack Daniels is not a bourbon because it is “charcoal filtered”.
  5. Scotch is made from malt and other grains and aged in barrels that were previously used to age sherry. The malt has been dried over burning peat.
  6. Brandy is distilled wine.
  7. Liqueur is brandy with flavor added. Liqueur is about 20 percent alcohol — higher than wine, but less than whiskey.

Alcohol Absorption

Some alcohol is absorbed from the stomach, but most of it is absorbed through the small intestine.

What Influences the Absorption Rate of Alcohol?

  1. The amount and kind of food you ate
  2. The content of alcohol
  3. Your mood because one’s fear and anger can cause our stomach to dump its contents into the small intestine (including the alcohol), where most of the alcohol is absorbed and, therefore, if you experience these moods you will get drunk sooner.

Blood alcohol level:

% BAL: This is the effect that alcohol has on humans.

.05 Behavioral effects start, there is lower alertness, release of inhibitions, impaired judgment, often dashing and debonair.
.10 Slowed reaction time, impaired motor function, less caution, dangerous and devilish behavior.
.15 Extremely slow reaction time
.20 Decidedly intoxicated, marked reduction in sensory and motor functions. Dizzy and disturbing.
.25 Staggering, sensory perceptions greatly impaired, considered “smashed.”
.30 Conscious but stuporous, no comprehension of the world around them, delirious, disoriented. Decidedly drunk.

.35 The equivalent of surgical anesthesia, considered “dead drunk.”
.40 If your BAC is this high, there is a 50 percent chance you are dead.
.60 This is a BAC of someone who is definitely dead.

Defenses:

  1. Body weight — The larger a person is, the more volume he or she has for distribution, so increased body weight contributes to lower blood alcohol content or blood alcohol level.
  2. Muscle mass — Alcohol absorbs more readily into muscle mass than into fatty tissue. Therefore, the more muscular an individual, the lower his or her blood alcohol level will be (in contrast to an individual with more fatty tissue).

Alcohol metabolism:

(1) Alcohol dehydrogenase (an enzyme) and the liver are responsible for the metabolism of most of the alcohol. 2) The primary by product is acetaldehyde.

The amount of alcohol the liver can metabolize in an hour is .3 oz. of absolute alcohol (.6 oz. of 100 proof), regardless of how much alcohol is in the body or the blood alcohol level. Hence, when someone drinks more than .3 oz. per hour, his or her blood alcohol level increases.

We would never suggest that anyone drive after drinking. However, it is noteworthy that unless one is alcohol dependent, pregnant, or suffers from liver, pancreas, or kidney disease, the health advantages of having one or two drinks a day [clearly at home and in a location where there will be no risk of a driving under the influence charge or other adverse incident(s)] an occasional dribk has been reported to outweigh the disadvantages. Alcohol in this amount as a general rule increases HDL (“good cholesterol”), which is associated with lowered blood pressure and decreased risk of stroke and heart attack. Some physicians even urge certain patients to drink between one and two ounces of alcohol if they are hypertensive, or for patients who are recovering from heart attack or stroke.

Call 619.583.0350 for a free consultation with our Managing Lawyer.

Main Offices
8880 Rio San Diego Drive, Suite 800
San Diego, CA 92108-1642
Telephone: 619.583.0350
Fax: 619-583-1850

Downtown Associate Office
Of Counsel – Bill O’Connell, Esq. 
110 West C Street, Suite 1300
San Diego, CA 92101-3978

Associates available 7am-9pm daily.
Call 619.583.0350 or send us an e-mail.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.