Impaired Judgement: Understanding How Alcohol Impacts the Mind

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There is a false misconception about the consumption of alcohol and one’s ability to make effective decisions or react in a timely fashion. When drinking, most aren’t aware of the impact that alcohol has on the brain and essentially, they feel fine, when in fact they’re intoxicated. As you might imagine the surprise most drunk drivers are faced with tested by the cops and their BAC levels are above the legal limit. To debunk the idea that if you feel fine you are fine, let’s take a closer look at how alcohol impacts your ability to judge, react, or operate a motor vehicle.


What’s One More Drink?

You’re having an enjoyable time at a local bar with friends. You’ve had a beer or two and don’t feel as if anything is wrong, so you take another drink. Was this the right thing to do? Can one more drink really have that much of an impact on your ability to focus? The answer is yes. Let’s break it down a bit:

One drink is best defined as a 12 ounce can of beer with 5% alcohol content, 5 ounces of wine with 12% alcohol, or one and a half ounces of 80 proof liquor. A 160-pound male who consumes just two alcoholic beverages can experience some loss of judgment, reduced the ability to multitask, and the decreased ability to track moving objects. As women often weigh less than men, the impact of 3 drinks would be more severe.


It takes approximately 3 alcoholic beverages for a person’s BAC level to reach 0.05%, although not quite at the legal limit, at this percentile, you could experience reduced coordination, complications steering, and the decreased ability to react or respond in emergent scenarios.


This is essentially why the introduction of low cost Interlock systems for vehicles have been established to reduce car accidents and prevent impaired drivers from having access to a vehicle. At 0.10%, a person has lost complete control of focus, reaction time, and maneuverability.


Why Does This Happen?

Alcohol slows down part of the brain’s activity that is responsible for controlling judgment. This makes it more difficult for individuals to thoroughly think through their actions or realize the consequences of participating in reckless behaviors. Coordination is also impacted by alcohol. As a result, their ability to manage movements. They essentially have worse hand-eye coordination and reaction time. Since a good sense of judgment and coordination are both imperative for safe driving, when drinking, time is required to sober up.


As you can see, from the very first drink you have, there is a possibility that your ability to make informed decisions, drive safely, and react accordingly could be impaired. Therefore, it is ideal to stick to recommended amounts of daily drinking for men and women. If you’re going to drink to your heart’s content, it is a clever idea to stay off the road and have a backup plan in place. For those who are struggling to give up their addiction to alcohol, getting outside help from a doctor, therapist, or rehab facility is strongly advised.

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