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Does 'morning after night before' mean driving is unimpaired?

On the old Andy Griffith show, town drunk Otis was never seen drunk and driving as far as we know. But those familiar with the show know Otis regularly put himself into Mayberry's jail so that he could sleep off an elbow-bending binge.

That's not an option in real life for a lot of reasons. For starters, being charged with driving under the influence carries much stiffer penalties today compared to back in the days of that show. Otis didn't typically need the help of an attorney. Today, anyone arrested for DUI should seek out legal representation to ensure their rights are protected.

One notion from the old show that many may think still holds true is that a good night's sleep will erase any risk of a driver being impaired. But anti-drunk driving advocates say that's not the case. To prove the point, WVEC-TV and the Virginia Beach police conducted a little test recently. 

First, they found an adult viewer to be a willing subject. At the end of a night of drinking, he submitted to a blood alcohol breath test and it showed his level was 0.188 percent. The legal limit for driving with alcohol present in the system, of course, is 0.08 percent.

The next morning, after eight hours, and presumably a night of sleeping it off, police checked the subject's breath again and found his blood alcohol content to be 0.029 percent.

The viewer was surprised, but police say they weren't. They say most people don't appreciate just how long it takes for alcohol to be cleared from the body and they claim that even though the subject was well below the legal limit, his BAC level was high enough to impair his judgment.

The test may legitimately raise the question of whether "sleeping it off" means a person is OK to drive. But it must be noted that, under current law, if their BAC is below 0.08-percent the answer would arguably be yes.

Source: WVEC-TV, "Morning after still dangerous after a night of heavy drinking," LaSalle Blanks, Feb. 6, 2014

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