By Trooper 1st Class Randall Dias Arkansas State Police
"99 Bottles of Beer"
Many of us find more than sufficient ways to celebrate the holidays and the coming of the New Year without the use of alcohol. But for many others, a party is not a party without at least some alcohol. For those who do choose to drink, the question becomes "How much is too much?"
Despite our efforts at public information, the results of a recent survey in Arkansas shows that the vast majority of folks in our state have little or no clue about what is and is not legal concerning DWI, blood-alcohol levels, and how much alcohol will get you in trouble.
Arkansas joined the ranks of many other states in lowering its blood-alcohol level for the offense of driving while intoxicated. The law now states that any driver is considered intoxicated who has a 0.08% blood-alcohol content.
That's down from the old .10 percent level. In addition to that, most people would be surprised to learn that a driver can be charged with DWI even if they have lower than a .08 percent BAC. Any level from .06-.079 can get you a DWI arrest at the discretion of the arresting officer (i.e. an accident, reckless driving, etc.). It's when you hit the .08% level that a DWI charge becomes automatic.
So how much is too much? That's a question that has many answers. Blood-alcohol concentrations depend on several factors, including but not limited to the following: body weight, time, food in the stomach, etc.
Someone who weighs about 120 pounds and drank three drinks in one hour would be over the DWI limit. A person weighing 160 pounds would be in trouble with four drinks. These numbers are approximate based on one hour. The more hours spent drinking, the higher the BAC levels climb.
But what is one drink? If you think it's a keg or a big old Mason jar full of your favorite brew, think again. One drink is defined by the amount of alcohol in the drink, not by the amount of liquid. One 12-ounce serving of most beers is one drink. One ounce of 80 proof liquor is one drink. One typical glass of wine is one drink. Many "drinks" contain more than 1-ounce of alcohol. A "beer drunk" is no better off than a hard-liquor drunk. Drunk is drunk is drunk... I've even seen people drunk on mouthwash! The law cares not where the alcohol came from.
I never met many drunks who thought they were drunk. Most intoxicated people feel just fine. They can't understand why the law is hassling them about "just a few drinks with dinner." Feeling "10-feet tall and bulletproof" is one of the reasons people drink in the first place. It makes them feel good. More sociable. More attractive. More fun to be around. All of these good feelings, real or imagined, do not lead to "good, good, good vibrations" on the highways. Alcohol intoxication is no matter to be taken lightly. It is directly responsible for deaths and injuries every month of every year right here in the good old Natural State. In fact, our yearly death toll could probably be cut by one-third if all alcohol were taken out of the mix.
As you've probably guessed, I personally do not drink at all, but I understand that some people do and that's fine and legal if you're over 21, and as long as you don't drive. Have a safe and happy New Year. Oh, and by the way, GO HOGS, BEAT THE SOONERS!
Questions, Comments? Contact TFC Randall Dias, Arkansas State Police, Troop I, 2724 Airport Rd., Harrison, AR 72601. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.