Summer is flying by at the blink of an eye and many families in Missoula are making the best of the waning months to throw barbecues and pool parties. Hosts serve alcohol at these parties and many guests imbibe. Hosts want to make sure their guests are safe and if they themselves are at a party they want to make sure their drive home is safe from those who may have become intoxicated.
However, being intoxicated does not necessarily mean your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit of 0.08. A person with a lower BAC could still be too intoxicated to drive, risking not only their safety but the safety of all others on the road.
When drunk, the duty of care while driving is impaired
All motorists in Montana must drive reasonably under the circumstances. This means paying attention to the road, following the rules of the road and making safe driving decisions based on the weather conditions, road conditions and the actions of other motorists. A motorist breaches this duty of care, for example, by driving while intoxicated. A person whose BAC is above the legal limit cannot concentrate, remember things, control their speed or process information effectively. It is easy to see how driving with a BAC of 0.08 breaches their duty of care while driving.
My BAC is 0.05. Does this make it safe to drive?
An adult who drinks around three alcoholic beverages has a BAC around 0.05. It is easy to assume that a BAC of 0.05 makes you sober enough to drive. This is not always true. At a BAC of 0.05, your speech and movements are amplified as you relax your inhibitions, you have trouble focusing on things, your judgment is poor and you find it more difficult to stay alert. These effects make it difficult to uphold your duty of care while driving and could lead to a motor vehicle accident.
My BAC is a mere 0.02. Is that so bad?
What if you only drank around two alcoholic beverages, giving you a BAC of 0.02? Is that really so bad? At a BAC of 0.02 your judgment can be somewhat impaired, your mood changes, it is more difficult to track moving objects and it is more difficult to multitask behind the wheel. This makes it dangerous to drive. Drivers with a BAC as low as 0.02 can still cause a drunk driving accident.
If you cause a drunk driving accident, you could face civil liability
Drunk driving is more than just a criminal offense, and having a BAC at any level could mean it is not safe to drive. Victims of drunk driving accidents can seek to hold the drunk driver liable in civil court for the damages they suffered. These claims can help provide victims of drunk driving accidents pursue financial compensation and hold drunk drivers accountable for their actions.