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How to Know if You’re Too Drunk to Drive

  • By: Ron Hedding
  • Published: November 25, 2019

This obviously is an important question.  I’m sure people ask themselves this all the time.  From my perspective, having handled DUI cases for the past twenty-five years, the decision as to whether or not you’re going to drive on any given night should be made before you start drinking.

When you make decisions after you’ve had some drinks you tend to make the wrong decisions and you don’t have to be drunk to get a DUI.  You just have to not be able to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Blood Alcohol Level .08 or Greater

I’ve had plenty of clients — in fact, I’d say the majority of them — tell me that they’ve felt fine and they weren’t drunk yet they still got arrested and a lot of them convicted of DUIs because their blood alcohol level was a .08 or greater.  That’s the standard.  It’s not whether you were drunk.  If you were drunk, you’d probably couldn’t have even driven the car.

When you’re drunk and falling down, obviously, that’s a horrible time to drive.  But, that’s not the standard.  That’s not the test.  It’s not that you’re drunk so then you’re going to get a DUI on your record.  It’s that your blood alcohol level is a .08 or greater and the prosecutors can prove it.

Then you’re going to get a DUI.  Even if your blood alcohol level is below the legal limit and the prosecutors can prove that you could not safely operate a motor vehicle they can get you for a DUI and the way that they prove this is by using the field sobriety test and making the argument that you did not pass those tests.

Of course, that’s very subjective on the part of the police as they sit there and take notes — or at least mental notes — as you try to perform the field sobriety tests and then later on they will write up a police report for the prosecutors who will then decide whether to file the case.

If they do file the case and the case goes to trial, they’re the ones who are going to be putting on the evidence to try to sustain a DUI conviction.  But, this fallacy that someone has to be drunk in order to get a DUI is just simply wrong and if you’re looking at this website not having a DUI on your record and you’re trying to gather information, that’s fantastic.

The information is very clear.  Before you go out have a game plan related to how you’re going to get back home or wherever you’re going to go, and if you’re going to drink then don’t drive.  That’s the clear solution.

Making a Decision Before You Drink and Drive

You should be making decision as to whether you’re going to drink and drive before you head out for the night.  Trying to make those decisions on the spur of the moment after you’ve had some drinks is typically where people get in trouble. How to Know if You're Too Drunk to Drive

So, trying to figure out if you’re too drunk to drive is something that’s really not going to be successfully done if you’ve had a bunch of drinks.  It’s really something you need to consider before you set out for the night.

If you’re looking at this website because you have a DUI and you’re trying to figure out what you’re going to do about it, then obviously you realized that when you get behind the wheel, you’ve had alcohol, you’ve had drugs, you’ve had a combination of both.

Marijuana is now becoming more and more prevalent, that when the police get their hands on you, if they believe that you’re intoxicated and you can’t safely operate a motor vehicle they’re going to arrest you.

You don’t necessarily have to be drunk.  In fact, I would say, having handled thousands of DUIs over twenty-five years, most of my clients aren’t drunk.  It’s the very few that are really drunk that end up getting in bad accidents, killing people, hurting people.

Those are the ones who are obviously in the worse trouble.  But, most of my clients aren’t drunk.  They’ve had some drinks.  They may be intoxicated.  They may not be able to safely operate a motor vehicle, but they’re not necessarily drunk.

So, don’t use that as your standard and if you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to deal with your DUI case, instead of just getting information from the internet, you need to sit down with a seasoned DUI defense attorney.

Certainly, getting information from the internet is a good thing because it kind of gives you a base, but you want to talk to an attorney about your specific situation so that you can end up with the most clear and accurate answer as to how you’re going to best deal with your DUI case.

Ron Hedding

About the Author Named Top Los Angeles DUI Defence Attorney by LA Times and named one of the Top 100 DUI Defence attorneys in California by the National Trial Lawyers Association. I'm the attorney other lawyers hire to defend them.