The Reality of Drunk Girl (and How to be a Hero)

drunk girl DUI heroDrinking alcohol is one of those milestones that many young people look forward to. For more than two decades drinking is out of legal reach in this country, so the day we are allowed at the bar is a big one. Unfortunately, drinking alcohol comes with its own set of problems, and too many crimes are committed when people are under the influence of even a small amount of alcohol.

Chris Janson’s song Drunk Girl reads like an instruction manual for a real-life hero.

Obvious crimes like drunk driving make the top of the list of alcohol-impaired behaviors, but so does sexual assault. While we are in the throes of the #MeToo movement, remember that you can be both a designated driver and another kind of hero, anytime you see a “Drunk Girl” or guy who needs a little help.

The CDC reports that alcohol is a factor in 40% of violent crimes, including sexual assault, and DUI fatalities.

What you need to know is that an impaired person is a vulnerable person. They can just as easily make a decision to go home with someone they just met as they can to try to drive themselves home… both while impaired by alcohol. Neither of those situations has a happy outcome, and that Drunk Girl you saw could easily become the victim of a crime, or a victim of their own impaired judgment.

We’ve spent a lot of time learning how to be a designated driver, how to take away the keys of a person who is clearly too impaired to drive, and that consequences like an ignition interlock are in our future if we choose that same path. Ending other alcohol-related crimes is just as easy to do. You offer a ride home, you put the person in their house, you lock up, and you leave. You are a hero and a game-changer and not a person was hurt by your heroics.

What Kind of Designated Driver are You?

what kind of designated driver are you?We know that the safest way to get home after drinking is not to drive. That means that we either need to have phone numbers for taxis or rideshare services handy, or a plan that includes a designated driver. Designated drivers are unsung heroes, as we continue to rely on the kindness of our friends. When it comes time to return the favor, what kind of designated driver are you?

Our exceptionally scientific survey* has revealed four designated driver types, including:

  1. The Abstainer-For-Life: You probably decided many years ago that you were just not the drinking type. You have reaped many benefits from your decision, including fewer hangovers and embarrassing moments. In exchange, you are probably the first person anyone calls when they need a ride home, but you will never, ever have to worry about how you’ll get home or if you will need an ignition interlock device.
  2. The Parent-to-Be: You are either pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or you are abstaining from any alcohol in solidarity with your partner. Fortunately, your status means you are likely not going to get a very late night call for a ride home. You may, however, eventually reclaim those drinks you passed on… parenting is hard.
  3. The “Pay Backer”: Your name came up as this weekend’s designated driver, and you know you need to take one for the team. You’re not bent out of shape, though, it’s the least you can do! Just remember that even one drink can break the designated driver code of honor and that the “least drunk” person is not the safest driver in the bunch.
  4. The Storyteller: You are a designated driver for the sheer amusement of collecting stories of all the ridiculous things your friends do. You are a hero, and you get to tell the tales that your crew never wants to be told. You win bragging rights and a hangover-free morning.

Wherever you fall on the designated driver spectrum, you are doing us all a favor. Pat yourself on the back, and get some free drinks and appetizers while you’re at it. We thank you for your public service, and for all of the stories that will follow.

*we made up the survey, but the results are still pretty accurate.

Weird DUI: Even Designated Drivers get DUIs

Designated drivers are this year’s top gift request.

designated drivers DUI drunkAs the holiday season looms in the distance, we are all gearing up for fun times with our families and friends. That means we should plan our parties carefully; whether we will be drinking alcohol or enjoying the bounty of non-alcoholic mocktails. However, by the time we have made it through those weeks of festivities and family, our commitment to making responsible decisions may begin to wane. We see the New Year’s Eve finish line and the promise of a sober Dry January and say “why not?” as we toss back another heartwarming shot of cinnamon whiskey.

Just remember: a designated driver chosen at the end of the night is just as likely to end up with a DUI as you are.

In many cases, instead of securing a sober ride before the festivities, we just look around for someone less intoxicated than we are. Designated drivers must be totally sober, not the least drunk. The least drunk designated drivers still end up with DUI charges and an ignition interlock… and could end up hurting you in the process, too.

Also, just because YOU are the least intoxicated, you are not the safest designated driver, either.

Being safe during the holiday season, and throughout the year, requires a commitment to sobriety and to planning to be safe before you leave… when you are still sober. Your judgment quickly changes once you start drinking, allowing that least drunk person at the party to suddenly be an acceptable designated driver. Instead of falling into that same dangerous decision making, give yourself a gift this year and be safe when you are drinking. Be a gift for others, too, and make sure that when it is your turn to be designated driver, that you do not drink a drop of alcohol.

Can’t Remember to Drive Sober? Not Likely.

don't forget to drive soberThere are not many people who intentionally try for a DUI or other drunk driving charge, nor does anyone really look forward to learning how to use an ignition interlock. Most of the time, those who are caught in the act of drinking and driving come up with reasons why they are in that situation. Forgetting to drive sober, however, is never going to be an acceptable reason for a DUI, not legally and now, not scientifically, either.

A recent study points to the odd magic of alcohol in how it can actually assist memory. The trick seems to be similar levels of alcohol in the body during both study times and test time for students. While college rumors have supported this assertion for years, many of us figured that was just a cop out for students to remain at a certain level of intoxication. It seems, however, that science agrees… rendering the “forgetful” drive sober excuses useless.

In short, it seems that alcohol’s magic for short term memory, like that in the study/testing situations in a college or academic environment, is due to blocking the brain from absorbing any new information. For anyone who cannot remember things that occurred while intoxicated the night before, it may seem reasonable to assume that it wasn’t a matter of forgetting the greatest karaoke performance of your life, but that your brain just didn’t record the information at all. Go figure.

Considering all that can go wrong once intoxicated, the responsibility for remembering to drive sober must begin well before we leave for a night of drinking… or an afternoon of studying under the influence. When alcohol is involved, there really is no better test of a person’s intention to drive sober than to already have a plan in place for a safe ride home. Besides, the excuses for drinking and driving never pan out, and under the best circumstances, we are still looking at a DUI or other drunk driving problem.

Designated Drivers and More: Couples Who Drink Together, Stay Together

DUI proof your relationshipDesignated drivers, listen up. Many great relationships began under the influence of a few drinks with friends. Science says there’s more to drinking and being in love than the lowered inhibitions offered by those shots and sips. There is evidence that all couples, young and old, have a stronger relationship when drinking together. Plus, the research corroborates that a stronger relationship with one’s partner leads to better health and happiness overall. Thus, drinking with your love will increase your quality of life, as well as the length, no matter how old you are.

This same study shows that couples who drink together find the most satisfaction with a spouse who drinks the same quantity of alcohol at the same pace. So in couples that have a heavy drinker and an occasional drinker, less closeness is built. Instead, more dissatisfaction within the relationship has been found. Designated drivers, however, can help bridge that divide, or at least keep couples safe from the dangers of a DUI.

There is something else couples can do to increase the quality and length of their lives, at least where alcohol is involved. Couples can be the first line of defense against drunk driving and DUI dangers, simply by being each other’s designated drivers. Having a partner-in-crime means you share all of the highs and lows and responsibilities for each other. It could also mean you share the consequences of a DUI, specifically an ignition interlock device on a shared vehicle.

A DUI doesn’t just affect the person with the conviction. There are financial considerations, like court costs and lost wages, as well as shared auto insurance costs and household considerations. There is the mental and emotional stress from the incident that can affect the entire household. Rebuilding a life after a DUI requires more than just the offender, and many families find that process challenging.

MADD Celebrates 30 Years of Designated Driver Success

MADD designated driver red ribbon Knowing your friend has your back is priceless, especially when you’ve been drinking. Designated drivers weren’t all that common back when cars first flourished on American roads, about the time that Prohibition ended. Motoring and drinking both saturated the country, eventually giving rise to two important developments: car breathalyzer (ignition interlock) technology and the non-profit organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

MADD is celebrating 30 years of dedication to eliminating drunk driving this year.

Encouraging designated drivers was just the beginning for MADD. Today, we all rely on the organization to compel states to increase penalties for drunk driving, including expanding ignition interlock access for all DUI offenders. There is a rating system used to point out where each state may need to beef up its laws, from DUI child endangerment to ignition interlock devices to sobriety checkpoints and beyond. For MADD’s efforts, our streets are safer and drunk driving is a well-known danger, one that we are reminded of, especially during this time of the year with the “tie one on” campaign for designated drivers.

When you “tie one on” this year, make sure its your red, designated driver ribbon from MADD.

That particular campaign is one that is visible across the country. Schools send home ribbons with children, encouraging them to involve their parents. Liquor stores or other places where alcohol is sold often have the red ribbons, too. You can even contact MADD directly for ribbons to distribute, spreading holiday cheer as you encourage designated drivers in your community.

MADD is known as one of the most successful organizations in the world when it comes to advocacy for change and a positive impact on safety. The community focus and effect on our laws is obvious, and we look forward to seeing even more drunk driving prevention efforts throughout the next 30 years.

Women, High BAC Means High Calories, Too

High BAC high calorieWe hear advice all the time that wine in moderation is healthy, or that beer can be beneficial to the body. But those “skinny” margaritas or light beer may be misleading us in more than one way. If you are trying to live healthy, lose weight or just increase your understanding about a nutritious lifestyle, there’s a big connection between blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the body metabolism index (BMI) that you may be missing.

For those counting, alcohol has around the same amount of calories as pure fat.

So, what’s the connection? There are a few to consider, but we can focus on the sugar that is in alcohol as the most obvious culprit. Too much sugar leads to weight gain. Too much alcohol means too much sugar. Therefore, too much alcohol leads to weight gain. Too much alcohol or a high BAC obviously leads to bad decisions outside of having a cheat day, too, like that decision to drive home after drinking.

Why can’t we just stop drinking at one drink? The body likes sugar, despite our best efforts. The body also likes alcohol. Both of those can be tough to pass on. The higher BAC a body has, the more likely it will just keep drinking more alcohol. That’s the same reason people end up drinking and driving, and living the next few months with an ignition interlock device; because they lose their perspective on how much alcohol (and sugar) they’ve consumed.

Who is to blame for the not-so-diet-friendly, BAC-fused beverages at our happy hour hangout?

The skinny cocktails and marketing of these kinds of drinks are some of the reasons researchers speculate that women are drinking and driving more, too. A 2014 report shows women are facing DUI charges at a higher rate – almost 20 percent more – than in decades past. It’s easy to think that lower alcohol percentages may allow just one more drink with friends, ultimately leading to a higher BAC (and calorie count) than intended. Women also have a different rate of metabolizing alcohol (that’s why the BAC charts are separated by gender).

With all the things that can go wrong by drinking too much, it only makes sense to have a plan for how many drinks you’ll have during happy hour, and to stick to it. Your waistline and your criminal record will be a lot lighter, and you can enjoy just one more “skinny” margarita in good conscience, knowing you have a safe ride home at the end of the night.

How to Avoid a DUI: Pocket Breathalyzer Life Hack

Pocket breathalyzers are cool and can save livesWe all love those videos and blogs that tell us how to do things a lot easier and better. We may never actually follow the life hacks, but why not spend 30 minutes learning more efficient ways to hang a toothbrush or sort our socks. Heck, we can even see what’s out there to make sure we’re being as safe as possible when we’re out with friends, like a perfect method to ensure we’re not over the limit if we’ll be driving. While we’re thinking about it, have you seen those pocket breathalyzers that help you avoid a DUI?

We have, and a good quality pocket breathalyzer really will help keep you from getting behind the wheel if you’ve had too much to drink.

You may have noticed that when you’re out with friends and you’re drinking, it can become a little difficult to keep your math mind intact. The rule of one drink per hour – the number you need to keep in mind to be safe on the road – gets a little fuzzy as your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises. BAC math is difficult once your buzz starts, because you lose track of time or might forget those shots you shared.

So when you pull out a pocket breathalyzer, you know you’ll be right on the BAC math money… and that you may have to find a ride home. At least you know, and your pocket breathalyzer life hack actually becomes a lifesaving hack.

Of course, anything that keeps you from drinking and driving is a lifesaving hack, whether you call a taxi or grab a designated driver before you head out for the night. But the possibilities with a pocket breathalyzer are endless, making it the perfect life hack for you when you’re out on the town and anyone else who wonders if they’re safe to drive home after drinking.

DUI-proofing Your Music this Summer

Summer DUI-proofing concert music Summer is upon us, and with it begins another season of outdoor concerts and music festivals. No matter how old we are or our favorite band or type of music, there’s just something special about sharing lawn seats with thousands of others who are also there to enjoy the groove. For many, no summer concert would be complete without a bottle of wine or other alcoholic beverage. Just remember that no matter what the song says about getting “Drunk on a Plane,” you’re still responsible for DUI-proofing your summer music plans.

Music has always gotten the side-eye for enabling bad behavior, especially drinking and drug use. Country music is thought to have the most songs about drinking alcohol, both historically and just within the last few years. But all genres of music reference alcohol, drinking, drugs and other behaviors that don’t reflect the lives of most responsible adults. The messages the songs send may seem to encourage that behavior, but there probably haven’t been many DUI offenders who claimed “Red, Red Wine” was the reason they were over the legal limit. Perhaps we just need more songs about designated drivers and being sober behind the wheel to provide some DUI-proofing examples, or at least a good soundtrack for sober driving.

Speaking of sober driving and DUI-proofing, you have more options than ever for including responsibly in your summer plans. If you cannot find (or be) a willing designated driver, see if there is a SoberRide service in your area. Check into ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft or rent a limo for you and your friends. Just don’t put yourself in the position of driving home if you’ve been drinking.

It goes without saying that while this summer of music hasn’t quite begun yet, it is never too soon to be responsible about your driving, including how you’ll get home once the music ends. Spending the summer enjoying great music with friends shouldn’t include an ignition interlock requirement and other consequences of a DUI. So when you’re planning your summer concerts and music events, don’t forget the DUI-proofing. You can still enjoy that “Red Solo Cup” without a solo performance before a DUI judge once the summer fun has ended.

Preventing DUI and Alcohol Damage

Preventing DUI and alcohol damageIf there was a warning label for alcohol and the damage it causes, a wine bottle would have to stretch above our heads just to include all that information. Most alcohol warnings are for more extreme drinkers, or women who may be pregnant, but alcohol use is a factor in plenty of criminal acts as well as many health issues. That said, there are a few tips for preventing DUI incidents and other damage caused by alcohol.

Coffee. This isn’t a way to sober up after a night of drinking – you’ll still end up with a DUI and an ignition interlock requirement. Howeer, Coffee is reportedly a tonic for a beleaguered liver, preventing cirrhosis and enabling a fresh start to each day, beyond a caffeinated  morning pick-me-up.

Exercise. Some people drink for a happier, buzzed outlook on life – exactly the reasons people love to exercise. Fortunately, after a night of heavy drinking, exercise can at least help you cope with a fuzzy head and process the excess toxins from your system.

That seems pretty simple, right? Things get a little trickier when we start looking at preventing DUI damage. For instance, a first-time DUI offender will only face an ignition interlock requirement after an arrest or conviction. Before then, preventing DUI damage is all on the driver, their friends and in some cases, the people who are serving alcohol. If the risk of harm to the driver and others on the road isn’t enough to keep us responsibly sober when driving, then we are heading straight toward a DUI, and possibly an even worse outcome for everyone.

Before we try to assess the damage done to our bodies and lives from drinking alcohol, remember that moderation saves lives and livers. The information on the effects of alcohol on our bodies is out there. What it tells us is that the repercussions of ignoring those warning labels about drinking and driving are far worse than the little time and trouble taken to find a safe way home.