Drinking alcohol makes us less self-aware. So, when it's time to go home, some of us might feel apprehensive about driving.
Consuming any amount of alcohol limits a person's driving skills. But, exceeding the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit of 0.08 percent can result in severe penalties under criminal charges. If you often find yourself unsure about whether you're too drunk to drive, here are a few easy ways you can check.
Use a portable breathalyzer
The easiest way to check whether you're over the legal limit is to use the very instrument that records your BAC. Many handheld breathalyzers are now available on the market for personal use. One notable brand, BACtrack even has a keychain breathalyzer that can plug into your smartphone.
However, ranging from prices between $15 and over $100, the devices vary in quality significantly. That being said, even the most advanced breathalyzers can be thrown off by mouthwash, hiccups, mechanical malfunction and other factors. It's best to use a breathalyzer as a general indicator alongside other considerations.
Review the facts
How much alcohol have you drunk? How long ago did you drink it? What's your gender, weight and height? These are all questions that can help determine how many drinks you should have and how long you should wait to drive.
To know how all of these answers add up, try using a BAC calculator app on your smartphone, such as Last Call. Last Call collects this information as well as what types of alcohol you've drunk to determine your approximate BAC level and give you tips on drinking safely through the night.
Ask a friend
If you have a sober friend around, you should ask him or her to conduct a bit of a sobriety field test for you before you head out -- even if you're pretty sure you'll be okay. Pull this friend aside and ask that they look for the following signs while having a short conversation with you:
- Slow reaction time
- Lack of balance
- Speech issues--slurring words, talking more loudly, quickly or slowly than normal
- Inability to walk straight
- Lack of short-term memory
If your friend is seeing these signs and believes that driving would be a risk, it's best to trust their judgment and call a cab.
Choose an alternative
Another method to avoid driving under the influence is coming up with an alternative to driving. Make sure you always have an alternative plan in place such as:
- Using a designated driver
- Calling a ride-sharing service, such as a taxi, Uber or Lyft
- Take a method of public transport you are familiar with
- Calling a friend or a parent that will help
- Staying with a friend within walking distance
Seek help for charges or reinstatement
If you are facing DUI charges or are looking to reinstate your license and practice responsible behavior, talk to a lawyer for help. An attorney can guide you through the legal complexities of these processes and help reintegrate you to driving in a responsible way.