How alcohol affects driving ability
Alcohol is a substance that reduces the function of the brain, impairing thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination. All these abilities are essential to operating a vehicle safely.
As alcohol levels rise in a person’s system, the negative effects on the central nervous system increase, too. Alcohol is absorbed directly through the walls of the stomach and small intestine. Then it passes into the bloodstream where it accumulates until it is metabolized by the liver. Alcohol level is measured by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood. This is called Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC. At a BAC of .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood (g/dL), crash risk increases exponentially. Because of this risk, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. However, even a small amount of alcohol can affect driving ability.
BAC is measured with a breathalyzer, a device that measures the amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath, or by a blood test.
The legally prescribed limit in Uganda is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, (expressed as 0.08 percent of blood alcohol content) which is equivalent to 35 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milligrams of breath.
According to the law, any police officer in uniform who has reasonable cause to suspect that a person driving appears to have consumed alcohol may require the person to provide a specimen of breath for a test.
Section 112 of Uganda’s Traffic Control and Road Safety Act 1998 outlaws anyone from driving or manning an engineering plant if they have consumed alcohol which exceeds the specified legal limit.
This legal limit was set by the Ministry of Works, Housing and Communications at 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, (expressed as 0.08 percent of blood alcohol content) which is equivalent to 35 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milligrams of breath.
There are many factors that influence the rate at which one person can get drunk. These include age, sex, size, duration of drinking, whether one has eaten any foods while drinking, whether one has urinated during the drinking process, among other factors.
Take steps to prevent drunk driving:
- If you will be drinking, plan on not driving. Plan your safe ride home before you start the party. Designate a sober driver ahead of time.
- If you drink, do not drive for any reason. Call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, use public transportation, etc. There are many safe taxi services online that can take you home safe.
- If someone you know has been drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys and help them arrange a sober ride home.
- If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone’s life.