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That time of year is upon us again.  And with that time of year comes the inevitable Ontario RIDE program.

Police tactics have changed in recent years.  It used to be that officers would set up around midnight to catch people on the way home.  Now, there are RIDE programs first thing in the morning to stop and test drivers who have crashed at a buddy’s home, and leave at 8 am, thinking they are sober.

It is hard not to sympathize a little bit with those who have had the good sense not to leave from the party at 2 am after a night of drinking.  The problem is that people have no idea of how long alcohol stays in their system.

For a 150 lb average man, each standard drink i.e., 12 oz of five percent alcohol beer, one and a half oz of 40 proof rum or 5 oz of 12% wine, that he consumes, puts about 35 mg of alcohol into his system.   Using simple math, if he has 3 beers, that would be 105 mg of alcohol, and obviously greater than the legal limit of 80 mg.

However, at the same time it is being consumed, the alcohol is being metabolized or burned off by the body.  While it depends on the person, for most it is just under half a drink an hour.

So, for the hypothetical 150 lb man who has 8 beers at a party between 9 pm and 1 am, how long would it take to get down to zero blood alcohol?  It would be about 16 hours or until about one pm the next day!  If he were to drive home at 8 am he would be dangerously close to the legal limit, and as well might be legally impaired.  Additionally it would certainly be over the provincial limit (these also lead to driving suspensions).

The urban myth that you can have a beer (not a pint) an hour and still be under 80 only works if:

1-you are very large i.e., 300 lb;
2-you are only drinking for 3 hours  and are male;
3-you are drinking very very light beer.

Women have the additional disadvantages of usually having a lower body weight which increases the blood alcohol levels, and a greater fat content (curves etc.) which add a further 10% or so to the disadvantage.

Separate and apart from this, there is still the issue that a person may be impaired at blood levels below 80 mg.  Some toxicologists believe that even at 20-30 mg some motor skills could be affected.  It largely depends on your experience with drinking.

So here are some helpful hints:

1.  never drink and drive;
2.  alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, i.e., one beer followed by one pop or water;
3.  avoid the last drink just before you leave;
4.  don’t assume that you have a zero blood alcohol at 8 am;
5.  pour your own drinks.

Take our advice.  We have too many clients who thought they did the right thing and waited until the morning to drive home and yet are caught and blow 110 mg.  Surely it should be a mandatory part of driver education that people be given some idea of how long it takes to burn off a drink instead of having to rely on the misinformation that one drink an hour is OK.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season from the lawyers, paralegals and support staff at Aitken Robertson Criminal Lawyers.