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What are the facts in Connecticut on impaired driving? The facts are…
- In Connecticut, if you are 21 years of age or over, you are considered to be legally intoxicated if you have a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08 or higher. If you are under age 21 you are legally intoxicated at a .02 BAC or higher.
- Driving is a privilege, and under Connecticut’s "Implied Consent Law", any person who operates a motor vehicle is presumed to have given their consent to a test to determine BAC.
- Stiff penalties have been enacted in Connecticut to combat impaired driving including mandatory sentencing. Strict enforcement of the laws sends a very clear message" Driving under the influence will not be tolerated on Connecticut’s roadways.
- In Connecticut, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (DUI) is a criminal offence. This offence may be prosecuted with or without any direct evidence of a person’s BAC. The determining factor is whether the person’s ability to operate has been impaired.
- Alcohol changes the way a person thinks, affects judgment, slows reaction, and interferes with coordination. By drinking alcohol and/or taking drugs and then getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, the impaired driver is only asking for trouble--for themselves and anyone who crosses their path.
- Driving safely requires a combination of concentration and motor skills, a great deal of common sense, a courteous attitude, and a concern for the safety of everyone on the road. Safe driving requires a steady hand, a clear head and an observant eye.
- Have you just taken an over-the-counter drug for your cold? Did you read the label to see if there are any side effects such as drowsiness? Should you think twice before driving while on ANY medication? The answer is YES.
- Antihistamines and a variety of other medications can affect the mental and physical skills needed for safe driving--even some over-the-counter medicines can affect driving. The effects of a drug vary significantly from one individual to the next, and may even vary in the same individual at different times. The driver's age, weight, emotional state, the amount of the drug and when it was taken, are all factors which influence the ability to drive safely.
- The average person's knowledge of how alcohol and other drugs affect their driving ability is often clouded by myths, half-truths, and just plain misinformation. Just how much do you really know about impaired driving?
To receive free literature on the subject of impaired driving or for other impaired driving safety related questions, send your request to: Stephen.Livingston@po.state.ct.us
- Q: What can I do if I know that someone has had too much alcohol to drink and is going to drive?
A: REMEMBER: when people choose to drink and then drive, they become potential dangers not only to themselves but also to others. If a friend has been drinking, you should see to it that he or she does not drive. Here are some things you might do:
Make suggestions to your friends that you drive them home. They can always come back for their car the next day. Suggest to your friend that they stay overnight at your home. This may involve some inconvenience for you, but you could be saving your friend's life. Try to take their car keys away if they insist on driving. Your friend may resent it, but if they're too impaired to listen to reason, you must take action. Call a taxi and have your friend taken home. Pay for the cab yourself. Your friend can't object to a free ride home. (When sober, they'll probably thank you and gladly reimburse you.) Plan ahead. Use a "Designated Driver," someone who agrees not to drink on this occasion, and to drive those who do drink safely home.
- Q: At what blood alcohol level is someone actually impaired?
A: Impairment begins with the first drink. The driving ability of most individuals is significantly impaired with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) much lower than the "legal" limit.
- Q: Isn't it true that coffee, fresh air or a cold shower will help a person become sober?
A: No. None of these remedies will decrease the effect of alcohol. The body must be allowed time (one hour per average drink) to eliminate the alcohol. Even caffeine, a stimulant in coffee and tea, which is supposed to help the drowsy driver stay alert, cannot make an impaired driver sober.
- Q: Isn't it true that alcohol is digested like food?
A: No. Alcohol isn't digested like food, it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. What this means is that alcohol begins to numb the brain and body almost immediately after it's consumed.
- Q: Is alcohol a stimulant?
A: No. Alcohol is a depressant. It acts on the central nervous system like an anesthetic to lower or depress the activity of your brain.
- Q: Is it true that alcohol is really a drug?
A: Yes. Alcohol is a toxic drug. When taken in large doses over long periods of time, alcohol can damage the heart, brain and liver. Alcohol, like other drugs, has a high potential for physical and psychological dependence.
- Q: What types of drugs can affect a person's driving ability?
A: Over-the-counter and prescription medications can both affect a person's driving ability. Drugs that can impair driving are those which affect the central nervous system, resulting in poor reasoning and slowed reactions.
These drugs include: sedatives, anti-anxiety drugs, stimulants, and antihistamines. Because these drugs can be obtained through prescriptions or over-the-counter, people tend to underestimate the effect these drugs can have on their ability to drive safely.
Alcohol is a sedative drug. It acts very much like other drugs such as valium and other tranquilizers to put the brain to sleep. This sedation greatly impairs a person's ability to perform complex tasks such as driving a car. Driving requires the ability to take in and process information about our surroundings. We must also have the ability to quickly and accurately analyze that information, so the brain must be alert and in top condition. When the brain decides some action is required, the nervous system and muscles must be able to respond quickly and accurately.
Click here for more information on how alcohol affects your BAC
- Q: A beer or two won't hurt, right?
A: Don't bet your license on it!
A 12 ounce can of beer, 5 ounce glass of wine or 1 1/2 ounces of 80 proof liquor all have about the same amount of pure alcohol. Alcohol concentration depends on several factors: the amount of alcohol consumed body weight the amount and kind of food eaten the physical and mental condition of the person the presence in the body of other drugs (even over-the counter drugs) and even the mood or individual's temperament. For most minors, one drink within the hour will result in a blood alcohol content of approximately .02%.
- Q: What is this .02 Law I've been hearing about?
A: This is a new law enacted in Connecticut to stop underage drinking.
The law states that any driver under the age of 21, with more than a trace of alcohol (.02% Blood Alcohol Content BAC or higher) in their system will be subjected to a 3 month license suspension under the new "zero tolerance" law. Any driver arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) who refuses to submit to testing will be subjected to a 6 month suspension of their drivers' license (not driving at all).
- Q: What about possession of alcohol or using a fake ID?
A: Possession of alcohol or the use of your fake ID by minors are both punishable by a minimum $200 fine.