You hear it over and over: Never get behind the wheel after consuming any amount of alcohol. It may seem like such generic advice that you disregard it. After all, how harmful can just one drink be? It would be so inconvenient to always have to wait to drive or catch a ride after only one serving of an alcoholic beverage.
What is even more inconvenient, however, is having to deal with drunk driving charges. Before you decide to drive after light drinking, consider how even one drink can land you in trouble.
Individual factors that affect metabolism
First, remember not to compare yourself to anyone else in how your body handles alcohol. Several factors affect how fast your body processes alcohol:
- Your gender
- Your weight
- Your age
- Your overall health
- The legal, illegal and prescription drugs you use
- The amount of food you eat before or while drinking
- The speed and frequency of consumption
One drink may not seem like a lot, but it can make a big difference if you are a small woman on medication versus a large man who had a full meal.
How alcohol impairs the body
If you are a large man, that does not mean you are automatically safe from becoming intoxicated. At even just a 0.02% blood alcohol content, you can experience alterations in your judgment and mood, shares the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You may no longer be effective at multitasking or visually tracking a moving target.
A BAC of 0.05% brings a decrease in coordination, reaction, awareness and judgment. This is why some countries, and even one U.S. state (Utah), have a BAC of 0.05% or lower. Even though the limit is 0.08% in New York, you can still qualify for drunk driving charges with a lower BAC if the police find that your abilities are impaired enough to make you a danger on the road.