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The numbers are frightening. More than 25,000 people lose their lives every year in alcohol-related accidents on U.S. highways. In our state alone, we saw a 1.7% increase in DUI arrests from 2004 to 2005; the previous year also experienced an increase. And as the problem continues to grow, the laws concerning drinking and driving will continue to become more strict.

The Effects of Alcohol on Your Body
At some point in our lives, maybe during a high school health class or an alcohol training class required by our cocktailing job in college, each of us has been schooled on the effects of alcoholic beverages. If you're feeling a little rusty, read on. The stomach and small intestine pass the alcohol into your bloodstream, which in turn distributes it to all parts of your body. That's why a full stomach slows down the absorption of alcohol in your bloodstream. The less you eat before tying one on, the faster you may feel alcohol's effects. Food won't keep the alcohol from entering your bloodstream, but it will buy you some time, preventing the alcohol from quickly going to your brain. Once the blood absorbs the alcohol and it flows throughout your body, your brain will enter a state of relaxation. If you are consuming alcohol faster than your body is processing it (one drink per hour of either a mixed drink made with one shot of liquor, a five-ounce glass of wine, or a 12-ounce beer) the parts of your brain that typically keep you in check while you are sober will ease up. The result is impaired judgment and the loss of control of your inhibitions. Saturating your blood with alcohol can also affect your vision, reaction time, coordination, and balance. It's also not uncommon to experience a change in mood. Now imagine if all these effects were taking place while you decided to get behind the wheel. It's a recipe for disaster, and as intoxicated individuals switch moods from giddy to angry, it can mean reckless, aggressive driving. Studies show that the fatal highway accidents involving such raging behavior, are mostly due to this combination of alcohol and anger. If you have consumed too much alcohol, the only thing that will sober you up is time. You can try taking a cold shower or drinking some coffee that closely resembles jet fuel, but they won't dissolve the effects of being hammered. You will only become a wet, somewhat alert partygoer. Not a sober one.

Drinking and Driving
Plain and simple, just don't do it. Once alcohol has become a part of your good time, driving should not. Your judgment may be impaired and you may not realize how intoxicated you really have become. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) inches above .05%, you are twice as likely to cause an accident. As you soar close to .10%, your chances of being involved in a wreck is six time greater. And if you hit .15%, not only will you have a rough morning when you awake probably still wearing last night's attire, you will increase your chances of getting into an accident by 25 times. While studies show that the highest number of alcohol-related accidents were the result of a beer binge, wine and liquor are just as likely to give you that dangerous buzz before driving. Don't think you are getting away with driving while intoxicated for long if it is common practice for you. Police officers can easily pick up on a driver who shouldn't be behind the wheel. Here's how: The alcohol has given you a false sense of confidence, and you think you can handle putting the pedal to the metal. Speeding is a quick tip off. Your brain is swimming in alcohol; therefore you can't focus on the road and you have less control of your motor skills than normal. This causes you to drive erratically, causing the vehicle to weave. You know you should not be behind the wheel, but you are driving regardless. You are actually driving slower than normal because you are over-cautious in your current condition. Short mental lapses cause you to jerk the wheel or punch the gas pedal, causing your car to stroll down the road in a jerky motion. The alcohol has slowed your reaction time and also affected your sense of depth perception. You make abrupt stops at traffic lights and stop signs, instead of easing your way to a smooth halt.