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Why counting drinks doesn’t prevent drunk driving charges

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Criminal Defense

People know there are strict rules governing the operation of motor vehicles. For example, the law imposes a strict limit on how much alcohol someone can have in their bloodstream while driving. The rules of the road should theoretically help keep everyone safe in traffic. Unfortunately, they sometimes lead to people facing serious criminal charges when they may not have had any intent to break the law.

Driving while impaired (DWI) offenses in Minnesota can lead to license suspension, incarceration and financial penalties. Motorists in Minnesota who enjoy drinking occasionally might try to comply with the law by counting their drinks when at a bar, concert or social gathering. While that practice is safer than doing nothing, it does not necessarily protect someone from the risk of a DWI charge.

How drink counting falls short

Most adults can enjoy about one alcoholic drink per hour without risking serious impairment when they drive. In theory, counting beverages allows someone to roughly estimate how much alcohol they may have in their bloodstream. In reality, such practices are limited and flawed at best and potentially dangerous at worst. Some people confidently get behind the wheel, only to end up accused of drunk driving.

People may underestimate how much alcohol is in a drink. Particularly when drinking at social gatherings or unfamiliar venues, people don’t necessarily know how much alcohol each drink may contain. Even if the amount of alcohol is clear, the effects of the alcohol can be different depending on someone’s circumstances.

Drinking on an empty stomach, finishing drinks quickly or consuming alcohol while on certain medications could all lead to a much higher blood alcohol level than people might estimate. Those who limit themselves to only a few drinks and who give their bodies plenty of time to process those drinks before they drive are in the best position to avoid a DWI charge on their way home from an enjoyable evening.

Those pulled over and accused of impaired driving might not actually have been over the legal limit. And this is just one of the reasons why there are many different viable defense strategies for DWI charges depending on the circumstances leading to an arrest. Talking about the basis of a DWI charge with a skilled legal team could help someone find a potentially effective defense strategy accordingly.