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Is Buzzed Driving Drunk Driving in Arizona?

Buzzed and drunk driving both impair driving ability, but the law differentiates them based on blood alcohol content (BAC). In Arizona, like all U.S. states, driving with a BAC of .08% or more is illegal. This is seen as drunk driving and can lead to criminal charges. However, Arizona law also stipulates that drivers can be charged with a DUI if they are "impaired to the slightest degree," even if the BAC is below .08%. This allows for DUI charges when an officer deems the driver impaired by alcohol, validating that even a small amount of alcohol, or buzzed driving, can legally constitute drunk driving.

At Viper Law Group, we understand how being involved in an accident with a drunk driver can be a traumatic and overwhelming experience. Dealing with insurance companies, potential legal issues, and an accident's physical and emotional aftermath can be complex. Hiring our experienced personal injury attorneys can be invaluable. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help you.

Understanding Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC, is a measurement used to identify the amount of alcohol in a person's bloodstream. It's typically represented as a percentage. For example, a BAC of .08% means there are .08 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. The rate at which alcohol is absorbed can be influenced by various factors such as body weight, gender, metabolism, the rate of consumption, the amount and type of alcohol consumed, and whether or not the person has eaten.

It's crucial to understand that even small amounts of alcohol can impact one's ability to operate a vehicle safely. As BAC rises, the effects of alcohol become increasingly more dangerous. These effects can range from mild impairment of motor control and reasoning at lower levels to severe cognitive dysfunction, loss of motor control at higher levels, and even death at extreme levels.

The Distinction Between Buzzed and Drunk Driving

Buzzed driving is often defined as operating a vehicle with a BAC of .01% to .07%. People in this range might not feel significantly intoxicated or even intoxicated at all. They might feel euphoric, more sociable, and perhaps more confident; hence the term 'buzzed.' However, this level of alcohol in the bloodstream can still impair motor functions, decision-making capabilities, and reaction times.

On the other hand, drunk driving refers to driving with a BAC of .08% or higher, the legal limit in most U.S. states. At this level, the impairments are more serious and noticeable, including poor muscle control, slower reaction times, and impaired perception, making driving extremely dangerous.

How Alcohol Affects Driving Abilities

Regardless of whether a person is buzzed or drunk, alcohol can significantly impact their driving ability. Here's a breakdown of some key areas of impairment:

  • Judgment: Alcohol can affect a person's ability to make sound decisions, such as judging the distance between vehicles, when to brake, or how fast to drive.

  • Motor Control: Fine motor skills and gross motor skills can both be affected, making it difficult to steer accurately or use the car's controls properly.

  • Vision and Perception: Alcohol can affect eye movement, alter depth perception, and slow the eye's ability to adjust to different light levels. All of these can distort what the driver sees.

  • Reaction Time: The slowed cognitive processing caused by alcohol can delay reactions to unexpected events, like a pedestrian crossing the street or a car stopping suddenly.

  • Concentration: Alcohol can make it harder for drivers to maintain focus on the road, often leading to distracted or drowsy driving.

All these effects contribute to why buzzed and drunk driving are so dangerous and why they are treated so seriously by law enforcement and society at large. Even if a driver feels only "buzzed" and not "drunk," they can still be a hazard to themselves and others on the road.

Contact A Personal Injury Attorney in Scottsdale

If you've been involved in an accident with a drunk driver, securing a personal injury attorney is crucial. When you hire our firm, we will use our litigation experience to build a robust case, proving the driver's fault and negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf. We will evaluate all aspects of your injuries, ensuring you get fair compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and other damages. Handling the legal complexities enables you to focus on your recovery. We offer a FREE consultation and charge no fees unless you get paid. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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