Drinking and driving - Never exceed the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limits for drivers.
As with any other alcoholic beverage, the consumption of wine affects your capacity to perform certain activities, such as cycling, driving and even walking.
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the percentage of alcohol in the blood stream:
A BAC level of 0.5 means that an individual has 0.5 g of alcohol in their body for every litre of blood.
After consuming a standard drink of 10 g of alcohol, BAC will generally increase by 0.2 to 0.3 for each standard drink consumed.
BAC will generally decrease by approximately 0.2 to 0.1 per hour (¾ to 1 standard drink, or 8 g of alcohol per hour).
The BAC will increase sharply when alcohol is consumed on an empty stomach.
Absorption of alcohol
After an alcoholic drink is consumed, the alcohol is absorbed rapidly from the stomach and intestine into the bloodstream. The blood alcohol level after drinking a specific number of drinks depends on the drinking rate and the rate at which alcohol is broken down in the liver. The liver breaks down alcohol at a constant rate, so, if there is more alcohol in the liver than its capacity to break down, the remaining alcohol will circulate in the blood to other organs and tissues of the body, such as the brain. Alcohol usually starts to affect the brain within about 5 minutes of being swallowed.The influence of alcohol on individuals will vary depending on the size, physical composition, gender, general health, metabolism, and/or the conditions under which alcohol is consumed (i.e. with or without food). For example, a woman’s BAC generally increases to a higher level than a man’s because women tend to be smaller and have more fatty tissue per kg body weight than men. Men also have more muscle mass and body water, thus, alcohol is more concentrated in the blood of a woman consuming the same number of drinks as a man. In addition, women have less of the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol in their stomach and liver.
Because of the multitude of factors that affect BAC, it is very difficult for individuals to assess their own BAC or level of impairment. Alcohol steadily decreases an individual's ability to drive a motor vehicle safely. Listed below are some of the common negative consequences following the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Impact of alcohol on the ability to drive
The consumption of alcoholic beverages significantly influences an individual's psychomotor functions, vision, as well as attitude and behavior. As such, alcohol impacts signifcantly on an individual's ability to drive a vehicle, ride a bicycle or walk safely.
Consequences on the psychomotor functions of the driver
- The driver’s capacity to react and his coordination are reduced
- The driver’s capacity to judge speed, distance and the position of the vehicle is affected"
- The driver’s capacity to follow a trajectory or to face an unexpected event is affected
Consequences on the vision of the driver
- The driver’s field of vision is reduced and his peripheral vision is altered
- After a flash, the driver will recover his sight later than normal
- Even with low alcohol levels in the blood, the driver’s capacity to see, follow, and accommodate objects is deteriorated
Consequences for behaviour and attitude
Alcohol may alter driving behaviour and reactions may become aggressive or neglectful
Drivers may feel over-confident, a behavior which can give rise to reckless decisions
The best advice is to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages if you plan to drive. In any case, the BAC limits established for drivers should never be exceeded!
For these reasons, authorities have established legal limits on the BAC for drivers.
YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR FAMILY DOCTOR FOR ANY DOUBT RELATING YOUR DRINKING PATTERNS AND HEALTH.