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Impaired Driving

Myths and Facts about Alcohol and Driving

Myths and misconceptions about alcohol and its effects on safe driving are widespread. Knowing the truth could mean the difference between life and death.

Myth: Alcohol is a stimulant.
Fact: Alcohol is a depressant. It acts on the central nervous system like an anesthetic to lower or depress the activity of the brain.

Myth: "Drinking coffee sobers me up."
Fact: Coffee cannot rid your system of alcohol. It just makes you a nervous, wide-awake drunk. Only time reverses the impairment.

Myth: "I always stay away from the hard stuff."
Fact: Alcohol is alcohol. One 12-ounce glass of beer has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of whiskey or a 5-ounce glass of wine.

Myth: "I am bigger so I can handle my liquor better than other people."
Fact: Size is only one factor in how much you can drink. Metabolism, amount of rest and food intake all play a part in how you handle liquor. Impairment in motor reflexes and judgment can begin with the first drink.

Myth: "Once I roll down my car window, I am okay to drive."
Fact: No amount of fresh, chilly air can reverse impairment. You gain nothing by rolling down a window or turning on the air conditioner.

Myth: "I just drive slower after drinking."
Fact: Many people believe that by driving more slowly, they can compensate for being impaired. The truth is, drunk drivers are dangerous at any speed.

Myth: "All I have to do is splash my face with cold water."
Fact: Cold water or even a cold shower will not sober you up or make you a safer driver.

Courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Department of Transportation