Have you considered what the implications are if a ZERO level BAC is introduced? Will this dramatically change what you do, how you entertain or in fact do business? Possibly. Whatever your answer, it is worth reflecting on the consequences of drinking and driving.


Driving a vehicle implies the acceptance of a certain number of risks. Careful drivers are always aware of the risks and also ensure the risk never rises to an unacceptable level. Alcohol not only impairs one’s ability to drive, but it also alters a driver’s subjective assessment of risk so that he or she drives more recklessly.


Irrespective of the amount of alcohol consumed, the maximum concentration of alcohol in the body is reached:

  • After half an hour when consumed on an empty stomach.
  • After an hour when taken with a meal.


On the other hand, it takes the body a long time to eliminate alcohol. An individual in good health eliminates alcohol at a rate that reduces blood alcohol concentration by 0.1 to 0.15 gram/litre/hour. Thus, one’s driving ability remains impaired long after he or she has stopped drinking. What we commonly refer to as a ‘hangover’ is then in reality one still being in a state of inebriation.


Alcohol abuse also has both short- and long-term neurological and psychiatric consequences that can endanger road safety.


Additionally, certain drugs interact negatively with alcohol. In particular, some combinations can reduce alertness. When consuming drugs, whether legal or illegal, with alcohol, the effect of the latter intensifies. This mixture can trigger mental dysfunctions that are extremely dangerous for road users. Physicians should be educating and informing themselves about these pharmacological facts.


To put the risk factor into perspective, the internationally agreed estimate is reflected below. As a good corporate citizen it would be prudent, not only to learn from this, but also to share this with friends, families and colleagues.


Alcohol Crash Risk Estimate 

The unadjusted crash risk estimates for alcohol indicated that drivers with BACs of .05 grams per 210 liters g/210L are 2.05 times more likely to crash than drivers with no alcohol. For drivers with BACs of .08 g/210L, the unadjusted crash risk is 3.98 times that of drivers with no alcohol. When adjusted for age and gender, drivers with BACs of .05 g/210L are 2.07 times more likely to crash than drivers with no alcohol. The adjusted crash risk for drivers at .08 g/210L is 3.93 times that of drivers with no alcohol. 


Till next time drive safe, drive sober and not distracted.

Eugene Herbert


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