The Myths of Impaired Driving (Powerpoint

Myths of
Impaired Driving
Presented by
Drug Recognition
PA DUI Association
Law Enforcement Services
Harrisburg, PA
[email protected]
Myths of Impaired Driving
Much of what we learn about
drinking and alcohol comes from
what we hear from other people.
But how much of it is true?
The fact is that there are many
myths and misconceptions out
there that you should be aware of:
MYTH: Beer doesn’t have as much
alcohol as hard liquor.
A 12-ounce bottle of beer has
the same amount of alcohol as a
standard shot (ounce and a
quarter) of 80-proof liquor (either
straight or in a mixed drink) or 4
ounces of wine.
MYTH: Alcoholics drink every day.
 The measure of alcoholism is not when or how often
one drinks, but whether or not one can control the
drinking once it begins.
 Some alcoholics drink daily, others may only drink
on weekends or in binges which could occur
weeks, months or even years apart.
 Learn how to talk to a friend who may be drinking
too much.
MYTH: Coffee will sober up a drunk.
 Your friend is feeling pretty drunk and wants to
sober up fast, so he downs a couple cups of
 The coffee may make him a more wide-awake
drunk, but he’s still just as drunk. Coffee is not a
cure for drunkenness — same for cold showers or
exercise. The only thing that sobers you up is time.
 In general, it takes about one hour for your body
to eliminate one standard size drink.
MYTH: If your friend passes out from
drinking, you should put them to bed and
allow them to "sleep it off."
 The amount of alcohol it takes to make you
pass out is dangerously close to the amount
it takes to kill you.
 If a friend passes out from drinking, the last
thing you want to do is drag him or her into a
bedroom away from everyone else.
 If a friend passes out, keep a close eye on
him or her, making sure his or her breathing
and heart rate is normal.
 If there is any reason for concern, get
medical attention immediately — you may
save your friend’s life.
MYTH: Blacking out and passing
out are the same thing.
Blacking out is a loss of memory —
like not being able to remember the night
before because you had so much to
Passing out is not being able to be
awakened. Either is a sign that your friend
might have a serious drinking problem.
MYTH: Your friend is OK to drive if
they’ve only had a few drinks.
 Too many good friends are lost to drinking and driving
accidents. In fact, about half of all fatal traffic accidents
among 18-24 year olds involve alcohol.
 The safest choice is always to not drink and drive, and to
make sure your friends don’t get behind the wheel after
 The amount of alcohol you can drink before your driving
ability is impaired is different for everyone and depends on a
lot of different factors, like how fast you drink, your weight,
your gender and how much food you have in your stomach.
 It’s better to play it safe by having a designated driver or a
plan to spend the night.
MYTH: Hangovers are caused by
mixing different kinds of drinks.
Hangovers are caused by the amount of
alcohol you drink, and how fast you drink it —
not by types of alcohol.
Drinking alcohol can dehydrate your body,
irritate the lining of your stomach and cause
blood sugar levels to drop, all of which
contribute to hangovers.
Get tips on preventing hangovers.
MYTH: Someone who has had too
much to drink will look drunk.
Just because your friends aren’t slurring
their words and staggering around
doesn’t mean they are not drunk.
Judgment is the first thing affected when
someone has been drinking —
coordination and motor skills are second
and third.
In other words, your friends might be
making decisions they’ll regret as the
result of being impaired, but never
appear to be drunk.
MYTH: Alcohol is a stimulant.
Alcohol is a depressant — it sedates
the central nervous system.
One of the first areas of the brain to be
affected is the cerebral cortex, which
controls judgment, self-control and
The depression on this part of the brain
may result in excitable behavior, as
inhibitions are lost.
MYTH : Drinking milk or eating greasy foods
before drinking will coat your stomach and
keep you from getting drunk or sick.
The stomach cannot be "coated" to
prevent alcohol absorption.
However, it is a good idea to
encourage your friends to eat foods
rich in carbohydrates and proteins
before consuming alcohol, because
this helps reduce the amount of
alcohol that is absorbed directly into
the blood stream through the
MYTH: The best cure for a hangover
is “the hair of the dog that bit you.”
Many people think if they have a
hangover, a shot of alcohol will make
them feel better.
 This is sort of like giving water to a
drowning person.
The problem is the body is trying to
recover from too much alcohol — why
would you add to that?
MYTH: Alcohol affects you the same
way every time you drink.
Not really.
 Your reactions vary
depending on different
circumstances — how
you feel mentally and
emotionally, your
expectations, tolerance,
if you’re on medications,
MYTH: Women can drink just as
much as men of the same size.
 Women lack an enzyme that
helps break down alcohol, so
they cannot drink as much as
men, even if they are the same
size, which most are not.
 This is why there are different
Blood Alcohol Concentration
(BAC) charts for men and
Myth: Sucking on pennies will
lower a person’s BAC reading.
Sucking on pennies or
other copper has no effect
on alcohol breath tester
BAC results.
Don’t be a sucker... it
makes no cents!
Myth: “Alcohol on the breath” is a
reliable sign of alcohol consumption and
 Alcohol is actually odorless.... it has no smell. What people
perceive as alcohol on the breath is actually the odor of things
commonly found in alcoholic beverages.
 The breath of a person who drinks a non-alcoholic beer will smell
the same as that of a person who has consumed an alcoholic
 Research using experienced law enforcement officers has found
that odor strength estimates are unrelated to blood alcohol
concentration (BAC), which ranged in the experiment from zero
to .13 (almost twice the legal limit for driving).
 The estimates made by the officers were no more accurate than
random guesses. The researchers concluded that estimates of
alcohol on the breath are unreliable, they only show a person
has been drinking.
Myth: People who abstain from alcohol
are "alcohol-free" and can’t be arrested
for DUI.
The human body produces its own supply
of alcohol naturally on a continuous
basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a
It’s called endogenous ethanol
Therefore, we always have alcohol in our
bodies, however not enough to give a
reading or become legally intoxicated
and arrested for DUI.
Myth: A Breathalyzer will
clear from suspicion …
 Those diabetics suffering hypoglycemia, whose
slurred speech, disorientation, staggering,
drowsiness, poor motor control, and flushed face
cause them to fail field sobriety tests.
 Hypoglycemia causes acetone in the breath,
which the Breathalyzer will record as alcohol on
the breath.
 Unfortunately, about one of seven drivers is
diabetic and at risk of false arrest and conviction
for DUI/DWI.
 That’s why other tests are done to rule that cause
Myth: Field sobriety tests, are not being
based on scientific principles, to
accurately identify intoxicated drivers.
NHTSA research began in 1975 in
California with three final reports being
published: SFST
California: 1977 (lab study only)
California: 1981 (lab/field study)
Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia, North
Carolina: 1983 (field study only)
Myth: Field sobriety tests, are not being
based on scientific principles, to
accurately identify intoxicated drivers.
•Laboratory Test Data Results on SFST
•HGN by itself was 77% accurate
•Walk and Turn was 68% accurate
•One Leg Stand was 65% accurate
•All three tests give an officer a 92%
reliably the person is impaired
Myth: Breathalyzers and other
breath testers are accurate.
 Even in the absence of any of these common problems and
under ideal conditions, alcohol breath testers have varying
degrees of accuracy as does all chemical testing protocols.
 However, FORENSIC Blood testing and breath test units are
 60 – 70% of DUI drivers arrest today are under the influence
of drugs. ( the use of DRE’s and blood tests)
 The only way drugs can be detected accurately is through
blood testing.
MYTH: It's always better to refuse to
provide breath or blood when
suspected of a DUI.
 Refusal of requests to do field sobriety test or to
submit to a legal blood or breath test is admissible
in court as consciousness of guilt.
 If you have nothing to hide, why would you not do
what is asked of you by the officer?
 When it comes time for your case to be
adjudicated, failure to cooperate with the officer
may result in your not being able to “make a deal’
with the prosecutor for a less harsh sentence.
 Refusal of legal testing results is license suspension
of at least one year, automatically.
MYTH: If you pass all field
sobriety tests, the police will
release you.
 The police understand that field sobriety
tests are not always accurate.
 Therefore, if they think you are driving
while under the influence, they can
request further testing.
 Furthermore, you can refuse to do field
sobriety tests and still be arrested and
successfully prosecuted for impaired
MYTH: If you just drink a small
amount, you don't have to worry
about getting behind the wheel.
 Any amount of alcohol can affect your
judgment on the road.
 Alcohol influences each person differently,
depending on factors such as body weight
and the regularity of this type of
 It's always ideal to refrain from driving
immediately after drinking any alcoholic
beverages, however small.
MYTH: Once you're arrested for drunk
driving, it's fine to be belligerent and
argumentative in the back of the police
 This behavior can't be held
against you.
 Police officers are constantly
observing the behavior of
alleged DUI offenders.
 Additionally, there is a good
chance you are being
recorded the minute you step
into a police car.
 This evidence could be seen
by a jury in a DUI case and
may lead to aggravated or
additional charges.
MYTH: It’s only the young and
inexperienced drivers who are
affected by alcohol
 It is true that being an inexperienced, possibly younger,
driver will increase the chances of having a wreck when
alcohol consumption is involved, but by no means are young
and or inexperienced drivers the only ones incapable of
drinking and driving.
 Drinking alcohol, no matter how old you are or how long you
have been driving, will affect your cognitive state of mind
and debilitate your senses needed to safely drive a vehicle.
 Don’t chance your safety based on age, sex, weight, driving
experience or hair color when it comes to drinking and
driving. If you drink, make the choice not to drive until your
blood alcohol concentration (B.A.C) levels have dropped.
MYTH: I can still be in control
after drinking
 Maybe you have driven after drinking 101 times
before and feel convinced you are still in control
after drinking.
 Even though you may not have a staggering walk
or be running into walls, the fact is that after only
one beer impairment begins to set in and slows
your reaction time.
 Alcohol affects not only vision and coordination
but also alters your attention span, reaction time,
judgment and not to mention the ability to multitask with all vital parts in operating a vehicle and
all external stimuli.
MYTH: If I have to, I can
sober up quickly
 No matter how much you allow yourself to feel
control has been regained after drinking alcohol,
simply by will, is a common misconception.
 From the very first drink, judgment begins to impair,
reflexes relax and slow down.
 Drinking alcohol is what it is and only time without
drinking can flush your system, allowing you to
regain the senses needed to drive safely.
 Don’t drink or use drugs and drive, just wait a little
 Use the facts to be sure you are not technically
"drinking and driving."
MYTH: I just need to eat and
I’ll be o.k. to drive
 Being that it is never a good idea to drink on an
empty stomach, having eaten with your drink(s) is
still not a sure-proof defense against impaired
 In fact, the only absolute way to be surly be safe is
 It takes about 6 hours for the body to completely
purge alcohol when a B.A.C level is at the legal
limit of .08.
 Food while drinking is good but not a fail-safe
when it comes to drunk driving statistics.
MYTH: Bigger people are more
equipped to handle alcohol so they
can drink and still be able to drive
 Granted, a person’s physical stature does play a
role in determining the rate at which alcohol
symptoms take effect.
 However, one must also take into consideration an
individual’s metabolism, when the last time that
person ate and how much sleep they got leading
up to drinking.
 These complex calculations could determine the
possibility of risking one or more person’s life when
agreeing they are alright to get behind the wheel
of a vehicle.
MYTH: As long as I splash cold water
on my face and roll down the car
window for fresh air, I’ll be fine
 Waiting it out is the only option to be "fine" to drive
safely after drinking.
 Splashing your face with cold water and rolling down
the car window feels good and may give you a sense
of revitalization, but the fact is that you drank alcohol
and put alcohol into your body.
 Neither cold water nor blowing wind will get it out of
your system and prepare you to drive safely.
 Don’t be hasty when it comes to drinking and driving,
drunk driving accidents are no laughing matter.
 The impaired person behind the wheel of a vehicle has
the same probability of crashing with his window down
and he does with it up.
MYTH: I’m only driving a few
blocks to get home
FACT: The majority of car
accidents happen close to
home, typically between 2 and
5 miles close to home.
Statistics show that only 1% of
car accidents took place more
than 50 miles away from the
driver’s home.
Those are pretty tough odds to
beat especially after driving.
MYTH: I won’t get caught.
 Law enforcement has increased impaired driving
enforcement activities in recent years and the penalties for
driving under the influence have become even harsher.
 New legislation also gives police the ability to test drivers
they believe to be under the influence, for drug/alcohol
impairment and charge those who do not comply, to supply
a mandatory saliva, blood or urine sample.
 Depending on the severity of the drunk driving or drug
influenced situation, consequences could include a 24 stay
in the local jail, vehicle impound, fines and even sentencing
to longer jail-time.
 If the drunk driving case was bad enough, a rehabilitation
program and installed vehicle ignition interlock device may
be required
Myth: I took the State administered
breath test and blew under 0.08, so I
can't be charged with a DUI.
 The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides for
prosecution of a driver for Driving Under the Influence
even when the breath results show a result of less than
the legal limit of 0.08 so long as the State can show the
driver was a "less safe" driver due to the consumption of
alcohol than he/she would have been without
consuming any alcohol.
 The State proves this by showing the judge and/or jury
driving manifestations and performance on Field
Sobriety Evaluations.
 Minors (under 21) .020 BAC gets you arrested for DUI,
that’s one drink in most cases.
 .040 if driving a CDL vehicle / .020 for school bus
Myth: You can only get a DUI if
your impaired by alcohol:
 You can be convicted of a DUI if your impaired by any
alcohol or drug (legal or illegal) to the slightest degree.
 Further, when it comes to DUI with drugs the State only has
to prove that you have the drug metabolite in your system
at the time of driving.
 This means a person could be sober at the time of driving,
but if an officer pulls that person over and thinks they have
showed signs and symptoms of drug use the officer could
arrest them for DUI.
 In this scenario if blood is taken and drug metabolite from
weeks ago is still in the blood stream then that person
could be convicted of DUI.
Myth: I was stopped on private
property so cannot be convicted of
a DWI.
This is simply not true.
You can be convicted of DWI regardless
of where you operated a vehicle as long
as it is on a “highway”, “roadway” or
A “trafficway” is a roadway of which any
part thereof is usually and customarily
open to the public.
Myth: I wasn’t driving; I was
 The law says “Drive, operate or be
in actual physical control of a
If your vehicle is “on” you may be
convicted of DWI regardless of
whether it was actually in motion at
the time the police approached
Myth: My last drunk driving conviction
was more than 10 years ago. I won't
face any increased penalties."
 Judges go beyond the “ten-year look-back
period” when determining sentences in DUI
 The reality is that a drunk driving conviction
remains on your record forever and probably
will be used against you by the judge
determining your sentence on a subsequent
DUI conviction occurring several years after
your last conviction.

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