Vol. 3, No. 2 Page 11 February, 2001
Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and boating under the influence of alcohol (BUI) are monumental problems in our society today. Every day in nearly every local newspaper (largely excepting only papers in those few communities whose laws prohibit alcohol sales) one can find lists of citations issued for DUI. Frequently, automobile accidents are attributable to DUI and the more spectacular the crash, the higher likelihood that alcohol was a factor. ". . . in 1992, alcohol-related accidents resulted in approximately 20,000 fatalities." (John Brick, Ph.D., "Facts on Driving While Intoxicated," New for 1997: Fact Sheets, http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~cas2/clearinghouse/factSheet/fact5.html. [15 Sep 1998]) Boating while intoxicated is quickly being recognized as a serious epidemic, too -- contributing its own share of accidents. BUI has an added risk over DUI of drowning. While alcohol consumption may not always technically and legally qualify as DUI or BUI, even a little alcohol greatly increases one's probability of being involved in a serious accident.
Alcohol impairs the ability to attend and respond to complex stimuli at very low BACs (e.g., .02% .03%). It is believed that such laboratory findings translate well to real-world driving situations where it is necessary to pay attention to many different events, such as road and traffic conditions, speed, traffic control devices, lane position, pedestrians, other vehicles, roadway signs, etc., often in a nearly simultaneous fashion. (Ibid.)
A BAC as low as 0.02 percent has been shown to affect driving ability and crash likelihood. The probability of a crash rises significantly after 0.05 percent and even more rapidly after about 0.08 percent. (Ibid.)
Rationalization regarding the merits or demerits of one kind of alcoholic beverage versus another and their relationship to DUI are baseless. "Although beer is reported as the most commonly consumed beverage prior to the crash, the type of beverage alcohol bears no relationship to driving impairment." (Ibid.)
Although some persons feel that beer is a relatively harmless beverage, it is a well known fact that persons who drink beer compose a large percentage of alcoholics in various hospitals and clinics. It is equally true that all alcoholic beverages have primarily the same effects on the human body, with the only important difference being the amount of alcohol they contain. Any two beverages containing the same quantity of alcohol will produce virtually the same effect. (W.D. Jeffcoat, The Bible and "Social Drinking," c. 1987, p. 10.)
Not only driving and boating are adversely affected by the consumption of alcohol. Every facet of one's life is potentially a casualty to the pleasurable consumption of alcohol. Contrary to popular thought, even small amounts of alcohol imbibed by otherwise healthy people can have far reaching and devastating effects. One's drinking can hurt others as well as himself. Unfortunately, the harm that occurs as a result of drinking alcohol cannot always be undone.
Blackouts, defined as periods of amnesia (memory loss), are caused when alcohol consumption levels prevent the formation of memories in the brain. These levels vary from person to person, and the time frame of these memory lapses is not always marked by visible altered states of consciousness. For example, you and your friends could go to a bar tonight, have some drinks, and discuss the current state of the world in an intelligent and "normal" manner. But, tomorrow when your friends recall in detail the previous evening's discourse, you may not recall the actual conversation even though you were a full and competent participant. This point is important because blackouts are often confused with passing out, which does constitute a change in consciousness. Blackouts are common among alcohol abusers, and can be a warning sign to drinkers and their friends that alcohol-related problems exist. For problem and healthy drinkers alike, blackouts are often troubling or traumatic when serious and typically unforgettable occurrences are impossible to remember. I don't recall slapping her! You're kidding, I took *[censored] [censored] [censored] my pants off and danced on the bar? Did I [censored] [censored] have sex with that guy last night... was he [censored] [censored] [censored]wearing a condom? It can be pretty sobering to realize that, in the end, we are responsible for our actions, whether we remember them or not. It's also a shame when we forget, for life, really pleasurable things like a party, meeting new people, or intimate moments of sexual pleasure. (Anonymous, "Alcohol Use and Memory Loss," Go Ask Alice, July 30, 1998, Columbia University, New York, http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/0887. html. [17 Sep 1998]) *[The above paragraph is censored respecting the sensitivities of a wide range of perspective readers of this book.]
The influence of alcohol clouds otherwise good judgment. Not only is the drinker's life often affected adversely, but the people that love him or otherwise depend on him are directly harmed, too. Families are shattered by alcohol induced domestic violence and fiscal irresponsibility. Employers are short-changed by the employee whose drinking overshadows his performance on the job. Society is robbed by drinkers whose demon in a bottle (or can) contributes to rising health care costs, escalating crime, unnecessary traffic casualties and the expansion of welfare rolls which serve as a safety net for impoverished families.
Imagine going throughout one's life perpetually under the influence. Does anyone really want their surgeon, bus driver or airline pilot to be under the influence of alcohol? The husband, wife, father, mother or children under the influence of alcohol is a sad tragedy looking for a place to happen.