Disclaimer: - Zigwheels in no manner promotes drinking and driving, and all views expressed in this article are personal. In the age of 1+1 = Happy hours, one of the biggest nuisances on our roads are drunk drivers. So let’s take a step back and visit the age old advice -- ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’. How many of us religiously follow it?
So, just in India about 1.3 lakh people die in road accidents every year. 70 per cent of these are caused by driving under the influence of alcohol. Authorities across the states are trying hard to curb this ever increasing menace. All the fines and jail terms hardly act as a deterrent in this case. India, in fact, has the lowest permissible limit for alcohol levels in blood, but still our road accidents and alcohol related cases are on the higher side when compared to other countries. Seen a breath analyser? This instrument that one is forced to blow into, is used by the police to measure blood alcohol content (BAC). The legal limit of alcohol content in blood is 0.03% or 30 mg per 100ml of blood. If a person driving a car has a BAC level of 30mg or above per 100 ml of blood, then he or she can be booked under section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which consists of imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to Rs. 2,000 or both. For a subsequent offence within three years, the prison term can extend up to two years with a fine of Rs. 3,000 or both. HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? All this is well and good. But how does one figure out the quantity of a specific beverage that can be consumed all the while staying within the legal limits. Talking of beverages, even your basic cough syrups and other health tonics comes with certain quantity of alcohol in it. It can be detected in your blood stream, but only in small quantities. Stern warnings on the labels about not driving or operating machinery after consuming these medicines, is something you would be familiar with. So, anything that increases your blood alcohol content above level Zero is likely to impair your reflexes to a varying degree. Now to further more serious stuff! All your beers, whiskey pegs and rum shots. How much is the concentration of alcohol present in them?
Although, the eternal question is -- how much of it is too much? The legal limit of 30 mg per 100 ml of blood suggests that it is probably legal for one to have a couple of drinks and then drive back home. But, there is a catch. As always! Alcohol absorption in human body is affected by two things -- the body mass of the person and the amount of water content. That’s why it takes a couple of more drinks than the usual at times to get tipsy or drunk, while sometimes it takes less to achieve the same effect. So, for an average human adult who weighs around 65 kilograms, these are limits. It means that he/she should stay well within the legal limits of drinking and driving. * 2 pints of beer (660 ml) * 1 large whisky (60 ml) * 2 glasses of wine (200 ml) Alcohol is metabolized in the human body by the liver and is an extremely slow process. The rest is excreted through urine, sweat and breath. It is always advisable to wait for the effects to wear off, in case you really need to drive. How slow is this process? Several researches have shown that it takes close to 60 minutes to process 9.5ml of alcohol by the human body. This means that to process a pint of beer (according to the amount of alcohol present in it), you will have to wait for more than 90 minutes. For a large peg of whisky (60 ml), it takes close to three hours for a body to process it, but traces of alcohol can still remain for close to 12 hours after consumption. This is when you stay under the permissible legal limits. So, don’t even consider driving if you are exceeding the specified limits. But, it is always advisable not to drive even if you are under the slightest influence of alcohol. Any person with even a little quantity of alcohol in their blood is 2.5 times likely to get into an accident. What to do in case you are drunk? * The best way is to anticipate the event before and leave your car behind at a safe spot, and take one of the numerous cab aggregator services – Uber, Ola, TaxiforSure, EasyCabs, Meru, etc – back home. These services are open 24X7 now, so no worries! * You can also hire a driver, who drives you safely home in your own car. EasyCabs, AVIS, Driverbulao and many others offer you this service in cities across India. * Are you one of those who party often? You can always designate a guy in the group, usually somebody who doesn’t drink, and afterwards they can safely drive the others back home. This can be done in rotation so that it doesn’t affect just one person. * In case of an emergency, make sure you wait it out for more than the specified time. This is in case you have stayed within the legal limits of drinking. A lot of water also helps you to flush the alcohol out of your system. Drive safe!
JijoMalayil that is a very insightful post. I would still reccomend people to not drive under the influence. In case shit hits the fan, all the blame would be pinned on the drunk driver even if it wasn't his fault. I also think that it's high time they raised the fine from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 for drunk driving. Next up: How to avoid drunk dialling
NikilSJ, JijoMalayil the problem is not only whether we have consumed alcohol or not, its more so to do with the unhygienic ways that breath analysers work in our country. I faced a situation wherein I was the designated driver for the night and did not even have a sip of alcohol. The cop check on M G Road, Gurgaon stopped my car for a check and I was more than happy to do it as I was sure it was going to be negative. Firstly, while waiting in que for the analyzer, I saw the cops using the same mouth piece for almost 8 drivers before coming to me. I politly requested that he changed the mouth piece before the test, to which he grumpily replied 'yeh nahin chalta yahan, natak mat kar' (All these tricks wont work, don't do drama). This was quite insulting actually and ignoring this, I reluctantly blew air into the machine from a distance, and guess what. I was apparently over the permissible limit, even without tasting alcohol. Amazing. A massive argument broke out after, and the ed conclusion was that I refused to pay the fine and they kept threatning to put me in lock-up for a night. It finally ended with me making a video on my phone and challenging their practice, after which they let me go. A time waste of almost 2 hours. Point being, you may stay in your limits and drink or you may not, but until the way to do these checks is not made proper, it'll just be your luck.
CorsaVeloce I've heard a lot of my friends say the same thing as well. It is basic that they change the mouth cap or straw after every test. Come to think about it, using the same mouth piece is like kissing another person. Yuck! Imagine the germs that transfer to your mouth at every test. In Chennai, the cops used to use straws for the tests. Initially, when they started out, they used to change the straw after every test and if you passed they used to let you keep. Incase you got stopped at another checkpost, all you had to do was to wave the straw around and they'd let you go. Now that seems like a better way to do it right?
NikilSJ My friend (a teetotaler) actually carries a pack of straws in his dash. We were pulled over by cops for a check and when he pulled out a fresh straw from his pack, the cop decided it's pointless to even test us and did a traditional namaste and let us on our way.
CorsaVeloce That is indeed a very unhygeinic procedure being followed by the police. Unfortunately, most of our law enforcement has little regard for hygiene and are poorly trained in the upkeep of equipment such as breathalyzers. These instruments are sensitive instruments that need proper care and calibration from time to time. I doubt any of this is followed by these checkpost checks. And there is no standard type of breathalyzer used. In Chennai for instance, as NikilSJ points out, there is a straw type breathalyzer where they change the straws for each test - that is a much better and more hygienic practice. We will have to put up with these checks though, as there are a huge number of drunken driving incidents. I just wish the police would be a little more concerned about hygiene as well, instead of treating the entire populace as guilty until proven innocent. shubhang Does that really work? NikilSJ was saying that the cops use different coloured straws for each day.