Summer’s Biggest NO – Don’t Drink and Drive
In Toronto last year, drunk driving charges increased a nauseating 17% – and those were just the people who got caught.
For many, the clink of ice in a sweating glass is one of summer’s sweetest siren songs. Unfortunately, it can come at a cost. Driving with alcohol in your system – even below the legal limit – can result in license suspension and/or mandated alcohol education courses. Driving with a blood alcohol concentration above the limit is a criminal offence and can result in imprisonment and worst of all, death – be it yours, someone else’s or both. And if you’re 21 or younger, or are a new driver, you can’t have any booze in your blood, period.
Now, if you’ve drank before, you know that alcohol limits (or totally destroys) your capacity to make sound decisions, and the best way to avoid making silly -or flat out life threatening – calls is to put the decision making skills in more competent hands. More sober hands. Even if they are your more sober hands.
In other words, the best defence is a good offence.
It’s with this credo in mind that we’re going to give you a rundown of the best ways to make sure you – and the people you love – stay off the roads post-tipple.
1) Get a ride both ways. We know, we know: You’re not planning on having more than one or two so you’re good to drive home, but “just one more” are famous last words for a reason. If your car is there, it’s an option, and your tipsy self may think it is a good option, so be proactive and leave your car at home. Take transit, a rideshare or a cab. Sure, it will cost you a bit more money, but it can save lives and/or possible jail time.
2) Schedule sober reminders. Program friendly messages from your sober self into your phone, reminding you to not drink and drive, not get in the car with someone who has been drinking, and to try to be the voice of reason if a friend is thinking about drinking and driving.
Sometimes a well-timed message from the ‘other side’ is all you need to clear a bit of the fog.
Likewise, you can also use apps like Drinkaware or HelloSundayMorning to help you monitor your drinking, keep you on track and be your line to solid ground.
3) Don’t drink reactively. People who drink to escape their feelings usually end up drinking too much, regardless of their intentions. If you’ve had a bad or stressful day, or if you feel pressure to drink, don’t feel like you have to head out for happy hour. Practice self-care. Go home. Relax. Get to bed early. You’ll feel better in the morning than you would if you’d decided to drink your body weight in Smirnoff.
4) Alternate with H2O. After every alcoholic beverage, have a glass of water. Sure, slowing things down and diluting the booze with water may dim your buzz, but it’s better than a horrifying list of grisly alternatives.
5) By all means, impose. All moderate intentions aside, you’ve tied one on and aren’t sure you’d be able to find your way home from your front lawn, let alone where you are now. Don’t be afraid to call someone you trust for a ride, or – if you’re at someone’s house – ask to stay the night. Or however long it takes you to collect your sober self.
6) Assign a DD. If you’re travelling with friends, this is a pretty obvious tip, but one that is often overlooked when you’re all at the pub and the guy who drove there is slamming back his fifth pitcher of Steam Whistle because he assumed someone else would be stay sober – or sober enough – to drive.
Here’s the thing: the legal blood alcohol limit to drive in Ontario – and anywhere in Canada for that matter – is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milligrams of blood (that’s 0.8). Depending on your gender, weight, size and number of drinks, how long it’s been since your last drink, and the medications you’re on, this could mean you’ve had as little as one standard drink over an hour ago.
If you’re ever in doubt, use a blood alcohol calculator to get an idea of where you stand. Of course, this is not a precise calculation, since things like whether (and what) you’ve had to eat, hydration and if you are tired can also affect the outcome and response to alcohol. The best possible approach is to assign a designated driver who does not drink anything.
7) Go your own way. Just because your best friend has been your best friend since you were zygotes doesn’t mean you have to get into a car together at the end of the night if you suspect s/he has had one too many. Arrange another, safe way home. Call a cab, Uber, your parents, a sober friend. Again, if you are at a house party, ask to stay. Encourage your friend to do the same.
8) Hire private transportation. Cabs, Uber and public transit are always options, but if you want to make sure you have a reliable and safe transport home when and where you all want it, then hire a driver for the night. Charter a bus or van to make sure you all arrive home alive. Dehydrated, maybe, and in need of a liver cleanse, but alive.
It’s important to remember we don’t have to follow through on everything we think – and think we want – at the best of times, and this goes ten-thousand fold when we’ve been drinking. Have a plan in place so you don’t have to try to come up with one after a day knocking back sangrias by the shore or an evening with friends in The Distillery District. By all means, have fun, but stay safe so you can enjoy this summer and many to come.