Many people, no doubt including some in New Hampshire, say that it is no big deal to have a couple drinks (containing alcohol) before getting behind the wheel of a car to drive. They say things like “I know my limit” or “I can handle my alcohol,” and they believe that, as long as they do not get pulled over on the way home, everything will be fine. In reality, this is often far from the truth because many drivers show signs of impairment even before their blood alcohol content (BAC) levels exceed the legal limit for driving.
Impairment often occurs at lower BAC levels
In New Hampshire and most other states, licensed drivers are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle if their BAC registers .08 or higher. The following list shows types of impairment that may occur when BAC levels are lower than that:
- At BAC levels as low as .02, a driver might have visual/cognitive impairment, making it less likely that he or she will see a red light or a bicyclist or pedestrian in the roadway.
- A driver who has consumed enough alcohol to register between .02 and .06 on a Breathalyzer may experience increased drowsiness, causing him or her to nod off at the wheel, especially if this person was already tired before drinking an alcoholic beverage.
- Once BAC reaches .05, a driver might have trouble maintaining proper lane position, causing a vehicle to veer out of its lane or drift off the road.
The highest BAC level listed in these examples is .06, which is still .02 under the legal limit for driving after consuming alcohol.
Surviving a New Hampshire motor vehicle collision
Just because a driver’s BAC was lower than that necessary for criminal charges does not mean that his or her drinking and driving was not negligent, especially if a collision occurred that caused injury to another person. A recovering victim of a New Hampshire car accident should not have to bear the full burden of expenses associated with the collision when another driver’s negligence or carelessness was the cause. State law allows the person who suffered damages to seek restitution by filing a personal injury claim in a civil court.