9 Signs Your Friend is Too Drunk to DriveTed Burgess
Drunk driving has a very strict legal definition in Los Angeles: having a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content. That’s a great legal definition, but unless you have your own Breathalyzer (they sell for about $50), it can be hard to determine if your friends are too drunk to drive. But there are some major factors that you can look for, including:
- Slurred speech
- Inability to balance
- Slowed reaction time
These three things are relatively easy to spot. If you have a friend who is displaying any of these symptoms, immediately take their car keys and find a safe way to get them home. This could consist of calling a cab or appointing a designated driver (this works best when done before the drinking starts).
What if your friend has been drinking but isn’t obviously too drunk to drive? Here are some things you can do to determine if you should still take away the keys.
- Take your friend into a quiet room and have a short conversation. If they talk at an inappropriate speed or volume (usually faster and louder than normal), then there is a good chance that they are too drunk to drive.
- In the same room, ask what the previous conversation the two of you had was about. If they can’t recall, this could be a sign of too much drinking. An impaired short-term memory indicates an inability to concentrate, another sign of inebriation.
- Consider doing your own field sobriety test. Have them recite the alphabet, touch their nose with their finger, and walk a straight line. Failing any of these tests could mean that your friend isn’t ready to drive.
With the rapid advancements in smartphone technology, there are even apps that can help you decide if someone is drunk or not. Keep in mind that even if your friend passes the tests in these apps, that doesn’t mean they are not drunk. These are simply tools that can help you determine if they are showing signs that typically occur in drunk individuals. In no way do these apps indicate that it is legal for your friend to drive.
- If you have an iPhone, there is an app called Back Track that monitors the horizontal gaze nystagmus (basically a tremor in the eye that is caused by drinking alcohol). If the app picks up this movement, your friend is probably too drunk to drive. However, there are some medical conditions that can cause false positives, so even though it is a great tool (especially at $1.99), it is not a conclusive test.
- Android phones also have apps that can be used to help determine sobriety. DUI kNOw is a free app that analyzes speech patterns to determine if you are drunk. There are several random texts to read and a backward counting test.
- Perhaps the best way to determine if your friend should drive is to play a driving simulator on your phone or tablet. There are hundreds to choose from, and you probably already have one installed. Actually, any game that requires a quick reaction time will work. Watching the reaction time your friend has playing the game can give you a good indication of how slow the visual-to-action process actually is. If your friend is usually really good at a particular game but now can’t get past the first level, it’s time to take those keys.
To make this extremely clear, if your guests or friends have been drinking, it is better if they don’t drive. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect decision-making. None of the advice here is considered legal advice – it is just meant as a bit of help to keep your friends safe.
By Ted Burgess