A judge whom I interviewed during an alcohol awareness week said he’d never driven drunk but he had driven tired which could have been just as dangerous.
I have several vices but excess alcohol isn’t one of them which means I’m often the designated driver.
When that’s the case I never have more than one glass of wine if I’m not eating and no more than a couple over several hours with a meal.
That should mean I’m well below the legal limit for driving, but does that make me fit to drive?
I wouldn’t be taking any other drug, but I have driven when I’m tired which, as the judge I interviewed said, may be just as bad.
So how do we know how much is too much?
The answer to that depends on several variables, so what should we do to make the roads safer?
Let us scrap the legal limit for alcohol altogether. Instead, we should substitute a legal requirement to be “fit to drive”. Should you be stopped at a police checkpoint and the cop has any reason to believe you may be impaired in your ability to drive (including checking your breath alcohol), he can insist that you take a “fit to drive” test. Failure (to take or pass the test) will get you arrested. The test could be administered using driving simulators in the back of a police van (basic tests administered by cops – such as walking a straight line – are simply too imprecise).
The advantage of a “fit to drive” test is that it catches all the impaired drivers, not just the ones impaired by excessive alcohol. It also avoids the problem of the margin where the person with the BAC of 0.052% is carted off to jail, despite being only mildly impaired, and the person with the BAC of 0.048% is let go, despite being high on cannabis and a liability on the road. It also standardises the drug tests that the new drug driving laws propose – making them considerably more objective. It will also prevent people from using portable breathalysers so that they can drink “to the limit” regardless of how capable they are of driving.
There’s an old joke about Aunt Mabel driving better when she was drunk than Uncle George did when he was sober.
If the fit to drive test was introduced it might prove to be true.