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How do you tell if you’re too drunk to drive?

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2024 | DUI |

You know you’ve been drinking, but how do you tell if you’re actually too drunk to drive?

People are notoriously bad at judging their own sobriety levels. Studies indicate that people tend to judge their sobriety as “relative” to those around them in social situations. That means if your buddy is stumbling around and slurring their words and you’re not, you may assume that you’re sober when you’re actually impaired. 

So, what does it feel like to be intoxicated? Drunkenness comes on in stages, which include:

Tipsy, but not totally drunk

The initial stages of intoxication bring a release of tension and tend to make people more confident. This is the stage after 1-3 drinks (depending on your gender, body size and tolerance levels) where you may feel more talkative and less inhibited. 

Just don’t make the mistake of letting your lower inhibitions convince you that you’re safe to drive; wait until enough time has passed that you feel grounded and sober again before you head home. You can feel tipsy even when your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is as high as .12%, and that’s legally “drunk enough” for criminal charges.

Definitely drunk, but not plastered

This is the next stage of intoxication, and it usually means that your BAC is about .09% or higher – but not so high that you have reached “black-out” drunk. This is the stage of intoxication where your coordination is obviously impaired, your emotions are more unstable and you may even feel sleepy.

At this point, you need to find a ride home – because you probably won’t be officially sober until morning. Call an Uber or a friend, but don’t try to drive yourself home. 

Anything beyond this point is a recipe for trouble, physically and mentally. You’ll probably be feeling the aftereffects of your drinking for a few days. Just make certain you don’t do anything right now that will put you in legal jeopardy, too. If you do make a mistake, don’t compound it by trying to handle the situation without the appropriate legal assistance.