People offer numerous reasons for making the decision to drink and drive. Perhaps they don’t think they are intoxicated. Or maybe they believe the laws don’t apply to them. Others justify driving drunk based on the short distance they are going. Aligned with these dangerous beliefs, there is a slew of drunk driving myths that many people continue to believe. Let’s debunk them.
There are many myths surrounding drinking and driving. Here are the most common.
It’s illegal to drink and drive
Actually, it is perfectly legal to have a beer or a glass of wine—or even a shot—and drive as long as you are not legally intoxicated. Most people are not affected enough by one drink over dinner, for example, to render them intoxicated under the law.
Drinking coffee, eating, and/or taking a cold shower will sober me up
In reality, the only way to sober up after drinking is by letting your body naturally metabolize the alcohol. This usually occurs at the rate of two hours per drink. Coffee doesn’t alleviate alcohol effects. All coffee will do is make a drunk person wide-eyed, awake, and nervous—and still in no condition to drive.
As for eating, first of all, you should never drink on an empty stomach; however, eating while drinking is not a sure-fire defense against impairment.
Finally, with respect to a cold shower, while this may momentarily wake you up, it does nothing to speed up your body’s ability to metabolize alcohol.
I shouldn’t submit to a breathalyzer if stopped
Most states—including Minnesota—have an Implied Consent law in which everyone with a driver’s license implicitly agrees to submit to a breath test if suspected of drunk driving. Failure to do so can result in additional charges or penalties.
However, only with respect to blood and urine tests, in Minnesota, refusal is not a crime unless law enforcement gets a search warrant, and therefore you won’t be subject to additional charges for refusing. The rationale behind this is that—without a warrant based on probable cause—a blood or urine test is intrusive and amounts to an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.
If I hyperventilate before my breath test, I will blow a lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
This is just wrong. It is impossible to affect breathalyzer results by simply breathing differently. The same holds true if you have an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. While certain ingested substances can, in fact, affect a breathalyzer result, simply changing your breathing cannot.
For more information on breathalyzer tests and Minnesota law, check out our earlier article.
I’m only driving a few blocks
Given that most car accidents occur between two and five miles away from home, is this something you want to risk?
After I sleep, I will be fine to drive
As previously mentioned, it takes two hours to fully metabolize one alcoholic beverage. If you drink five drinks in a short time and sleep for, say, five hours, you will still be under the influence and will likely blow above the legal limit. You would need at least ten hours of sleep for the alcohol from five drinks to wear off.
If I just drink beer and not hard liquor, I will be okay to drive
Beer is still alcohol. In fact, one 12-ounce beer has the same alcohol content as a five-ounce glass of fine or a half-ounce shot of 80-proof whiskey.
I’m not that drunk, I can still drive
Even if you may have driven drunk 100 times in the past without an accident or arrest, it doesn’t take much alcohol to impair your ability to drive safely. Alcohol affects vision, coordination, reaction time, judgment, attention span, and multi-tasking ability—all critical aspects of driving. Do you really want to keep tempting fate?
I won’t get caught
Because of the increase in anti-DWI efforts by law enforcement, governments, and civilian groups, drunk driving penalties have gotten more severe and the use of DWI checkpoints has risen. It’s better to be safe than sorry and don’t risk it.
It’s best to take a plea bargain for a DWI
Contrary to popular belief, many DWI charges have been fought—and beaten—in court due to poor police work and questionable evidence. In some cases, the charges are dismissed outright. While fighting a DWI charge can be difficult, retaining the services of a skilled and experienced defense attorney is your best bet to fight these charges.