Hearing about the devastating news of fatal car accidents involving drivers under the influence of alcohol is a frequent occurrence; simply tune into your choice forms of media and it is apparent that drunk driving is a trap that many people fall into. Therefore, it is safe to say that one might read or hear the local news in nervous anticipation, hoping that an accident being detailed does not involve someone the listener knows and cares about. A person might even think to him or herself, Wow. That could have been me.
According to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, “an estimated 32 percent of car accidents occur due to an intoxicated driver.” Since drinking is so common, drunk driving is an all-too-serious reality that we must face. So, what provokes a person to drive a vehicle without the ability to ensure the safety of him or herself and that of other drivers? The increased potential to drunk drive can be attributed to the impairment caused by the overconsumption of alcohol itself, and even to the use of marijuana.
Marijuana On The Rise
A drug that is becoming extremely familiar in both social circles and private use is marijuana. It is estimated that by 2020, the legal purchase of weed will generate $22 billion in sales within the United States alone. This statistic is staggering, especially considering that only 1 million people actually utilize marijuana for medical purposes; the remaining 21 million enjoy pot for its recreational appeal. Although some may argue for marijuana’s potential benefits, it is still categorized as a Schedule I drug, alongside other highly addictive drugs with potential for abuse: heroin, for example.
The chemical found in marijuana that causes the most controversy is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC affects a specific network of receptors in the human brain that prompt serious side effects, such as lapses in judgment and memory loss. The chemicals in marijuana that alter one’s mind can certainly cause a person who has been drinking to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. Without pot, a person often makes better decisions than when not thinking clearly due to the effects of THC. Marijuana is the most common drug used in combination with drinking, so concerns regarding its effects should not be pushed aside.
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Alcohol Distorts The Senses
Alcohol is popularly consumed for recreational purposes. People drink to have fun, relax, or simply let loose. However, rarely are the severe negatives of such a seemingly “fun” drug openly discussed. Although alcohol affects each person differently, inebriation inhibits a number of senses, leading to a lack of judgment regarding the ability to drive. Some of the effects of alcohol include:
- Decreased reaction times
- Blurred or reduced vision
- Problems understanding sensory information
- Difficulty multitasking (keeping in a lane while being attentive to other traffic)
- Reduced concentration
- Drowsiness, which could cause a driver to fall asleep while driving
- Failure to comprehend or obey general traffic laws
- Increased boldness, which may lead to risk-taking (running a stop sign or racing)
Legal Limits Of Alcohol
All states in the U.S. have agreed upon a legal limit for drivers 21 years of age and older: a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent. BAC over the level of .08 percent is cause for dangerous driving. The U.S. does not allow drivers under 21 to have an alcohol level while driving a vehicle. If a person 21 or over is caught behind the wheel with an inappropriate BAC, he or she could be charged with driving under the influence (DUI), assigned jail time, and even have a license revoked. Even worse, a drunk driver could seriously harm or kill him or herself or put the lives of others at risk.
Driving Under The Influence
A person does not begin smoking weed and/or drinking alcohol with the goal of putting oneself or others in danger by drunk driving. Usually, people participate in drinking or smoking with a desire to relax and have fun. However, the risks of drinking booze and smoking marijuana are often downplayed because of increasing social acceptance. In other words, the initial perception of enjoyment could soon be masked by astronomical detriment, hinging on illegal action carried out while judgment is impaired: driving under the influence.
A simple lapse in judgment could lead to driving while intoxicated and causing serious injury or death. The truth is that alcohol and/or marijuana use affects a person’s ability to make informed decisions, which could result in driving drunk. Vulnerability like this takes place when someone is not aware of the extent he or she is affected by a specific drug, resulting in negative and irreversible decisions, which rehab for alcoholic can help prevent.