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Drinking and Driving: “I Feel Fine… Can I Drive?”

Many of us have spent a significant amount of our glory days consuming alcohol at parties and bars and we’ve certainly questioned ourselves at times: “I feel fine, but can I legally drive?” This question often arises when someone had a few drinks but does not feel drunk or incapable of operating a vehicle. So—what’s the answer from a legal perspective?

The general rule is that you should wait one hour for each drink so if you drink two glasses of wine, you should wait at least two hours before driving. In Maryland, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is .08 percent. While it is hard to tell where you are percentage wise after a few drinks without carrying a mini breathalyzer around with you, there are some preemptive steps you can take to ensure you avoid a drunk or impaired driving charge.

The most important thing to remember is that just because you don’t feel drunk, it doesn’t mean you aren’t drunk in the eyes of the law. If you are pulled over and your blood alcohol level exceeds .08, you will automatically be considered legally drunk regardless of how you’re feeling at the time.

Additionally, there are some other things to consider, including:

1) Age: Age plays a significant factor in how drunk you may feel because the older you are, the longer it takes for your internal systems to break down alcohol.

2) Gender: As much as we may strive for equal treatment of genders, it does play a role here. Your gender does affect your metabolism, including the metabolizing of alcohol. Alcohol tends to stay in women’s systems longer and at a higher rate based on their lower fat-to-muscle ratio as compared to men.

3) Food Intake: Food can play a major role when it comes to how alcohol impacts your body. If you have not consumed enough food, alcohol will affect you for a much longer period of time.

There are many options if you aren’t sure whether you are able to legally drive after consuming alcohol, ranging from taxis and Ubers to finding a local hotel to “sleep it off.” However, if you are consistently concerned about whether or not to drive, it may be beneficial to purchase a plug-in breathalyzer. These small devices can read your BAC through your phone, which can tell you whether you need to make alternative arrangements.

Regardless of how you choose to ensure that you are only driving under the legal limit, if you run into an issue, we can help. If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI, contact our office immediately to discuss your options. These are very serious charges that can severely impact your life and future, even potentially leading to jail time and a permanent criminal record. Our expert attorneys can discuss your case with you, and help determine the best course of action.