The page below is part of the material from an online traffic school in the US. Taking a traffic school class - usually a one day course, whether online or in person - is a way to remove a minor first offense from one's driving record and thus keep the "good driver" discount for one's car insurance.

The photograph serving as backdrop for a list of effects and consequences of drunkenness shows, but does not identify, foreground right to left, the German minister of defense Rudolf Scharping, the German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, German president Johannes Rau, and former head of the SPD (the German left majority party) Oskar Lafontaine.

Other sources of the same photograph:

Die unten abgebildete Webseite ist Teil der Kursmaterialien einer "Online Traffic School". Autofahrer besuchen diese Kurse - normalerwise eintägig, über's Internet oder in Person - um ein "Knöllchen" von ihrem Register zu streichen.

Auf dem Foto im Hintergrund einer Liste von Folgen und Risiken des Alkohols finden sich, unidentifiziert und für den Durschschnittsamerikaner nicht zu erkennen, von rechts: Verteidigungsminister Rudolf Scharping, Kanzler Gerhard Schröder, Bundespräsident Johannes Rau, und der ehemalige SPD-Vorsitzende Oskar Lafontaine.

Andere Quellen des abgebildeten Fotos:

--, July 2003   

Vehicular Suicide and Murder
Unit 5: Page 2

A Traffic School Program

Sunday, July 13, 2003
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Page 2 of 7

How Do You Know When You've Had Enough?

How do you know when you've had too much? Asking someone intoxicated if he or she has had "enough" is a wasted effort. Most people do not have the judgment to make that decision once they are intoxicated. You are asking someone with impaired judgment and reason to use judgment and reason. Sort of foolish, isn't it? You need a standard for judging intoxication that is independent of your "feelings" when you have been drinking. That standard is "Blood Alcohol Content" (BAC). By understanding BAC, you can know when enough is enough.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

Blood Alcohol Content is an indication of how many milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood (in milligrams percent) are in the body. In California, a BAC of .08% is considered legally drunk. That means if you are driving with that concentration of alcohol in your blood, you are subject to arrest, fines, confinement, and/or loss of license. If you are under the age of twenty-one, you are considered legally drunk if your BAC is .01%. In other words, since it is illegal for someone under the age of twenty-one to be drinking in the first place, the slightest trace of alcohol in his or her blood constitutes legal intoxication. To understand BAC, keep these standards in mind:

A standard drink of alcohol is:

  • One-and-one-half ounces of liquor such as Bourbon, Scotch, Vodka, etc. (40% alcohol or 80-proof)
  • One five-ounce glass of table wine (12% alcohol)
  • One 12-ounce container of beer (5% alcohol)

Note: One standard drink of hard liquor is a "jigger," which is one-and-a-half ounces. Some table wines have more than the typical 12% alcohol, and some imported beers have higher alcohol content. A 12-ounce container of beer has the same amount of alcohol as a mixed drink made with one-and-a-half ounces of 80-proof liquor. Ten beers are the equivalent of ten standard mixed drinks!

Alcohol Absorption

Alcohol is the only ingested substance that undergoes no digestion. Once it is in your stomach, it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Time, body weight, and stomach contents affect absorption rates.

Time: Alcohol is a fuel the body burns up fairly quickly. But not quickly enough in many instances since drinkers underestimate the amount of time needed to burn the alcohol they have ingested. The liver is the organ responsible for burning alcohol, and, as you might already know, cirrhosis of the liver can be a side effect of alcoholism. In an adult male with good liver function, the liver can process approximately one ounce of alcohol an hour. The average rate of metabolism will metabolize 0.015% BAC per hour. This means that the average adult male body can dissipate one drink in about one-and-one-quarter hours. For the average adult female it takes about one-and-one-half hours to dissipate one standard drink. So, theoretically, if you are male and have one standard drink of alcohol at 7:00 p.m., your blood alcohol at 8:15 p.m. will be 0.00. For an average woman it will take until 8:30 p.m.

Body Size: Another important factor in your blood alcohol content is your body size. Body mass and blood volume affect the amount of alcohol in a person's bloodstream and therefore the time it takes for a person to feel the effects of alcohol. In general, the bigger you are, the more alcohol you can consume. If a 200-pound person and a 100-pound person drink the same amount of alcohol in the same time period, the smaller person will become intoxicated quite a bit before the larger person.

Stomach Content: Since alcohol has to be absorbed to have an effect, anything slowing the absorption will slow the effect. Taking alcohol on an empty stomach guarantees an almost immediate effect as the alcohol hits the blood and quickly goes to the brain. Here, it initiates its effects. "Don't drink on an empty stomach" is good advice. However, just because the food is slowing absorption, do not mislead yourself to think it is preventing absorption. The effects of alcohol you drink on a full stomach will be the same. It will just take a little longer.

Small amounts of alcohol are eliminated through sweat, breath, and urine leaving the body unchanged as alcohol; but the main way the body disposes of alcohol is through chemically breaking it down. This process occurs at a steady metabolic rate, and nothing hastens it. Nothing. Not cold showers, exercise, or hot coffee. If you give coffee to someone who is drunk hoping the caffeine will sober him, all you will have is a wide-awake drunk.