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What Is Buzzed Driving?

Posted On 06/26/20 by Begam Marks & Traulson, PA

Alcohol and driving do not mix. All 50 states have laws prohibiting drivers from operating motor vehicles while drunk – a reckless act that costs thousands of people their lives in the US. Crash estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration state that at least 30 people in the country die per day in drunk driving accidents. Buzzed driving is equally as dangerous as drunk driving. It could also meet the definition of an illegal act in Arizona.

What Is Considered Buzzed Driving?

Buzzed is a common slang word used for someone who has been drinking alcohol but who is not drunk. Someone who is buzzed will feel the effects of alcohol, such as dizziness or impaired judgment, but may not have had enough to drink to be legally drunk. In a legal sense, someone who is buzzed has not met the state’s definition of drunk. It may still, however, be against the law for that person to operate a motor vehicle.

In Arizona, the legal definition of drunk driving is operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of at least 0.08%. At 0.08% BAC or higher, law enforcement can presume a driver is drunk and make an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI). Buzzed driving refers to operating a car with a BAC below 0.08%. The driver will still have a detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system, 0.01% to 0.07%, but may not meet the legal definition of drunk under Arizona’s DUI law.

What’s the Difference Between Buzzed Driving and Drunk Driving?

Aside from the difference in BAC, buzzed driving and drunk driving are very similar. They are both extremely dangerous practices that can cost victims their lives. A drunk driver, however, will generally be more intoxicated than a buzzed driver. Although alcohol affects everyone differently, someone who meets the definition of buzzed will not be safe to drive. Any amount of alcohol, even one beverage, could negatively impact the driving ability.

  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired judgment
  • Reduced reaction times
  • Dulled senses (vision, hearing, etc.)
  • Dizziness
  • Grogginess or drowsiness
  • Cognitive distraction

Another similarity between buzzed and drunk driving is how the police in Arizona will handle a traffic stop. Buzzed driving could still result in a DUI charge if the police officer believes the driver is impaired to even the slightest degree. Signs the driver is feeling the effects of alcohol at all – even with a BAC lower than 0.08% – could give the officer a reason to arrest the driver for DUI. If a driver is under the age of 21, Arizona’s Not-a-Drop Law could arrest the driver for DUI with any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system.

How to Avoid Buzzed Driving

Buzzed driving is dangerous for the driver and others who are sharing the road. Being buzzed can negatively impact a driver’s abilities just as much as drunkenness. A buzzed driver could cause a serious car accident. A buzzed driver in Arizona could also face criminal repercussions with a driving under the influence conviction, depending on the circumstances. Having any amount of alcohol in one’s system as a driver could lead to a DUI in Arizona. The best thing to do for yourself and others is to avoid buzzed driving.

Never operate a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol in your system. If you have been drinking, wait long enough for the alcohol to leave your system or arrange a sober ride home. As a general rule of thumb, you must wait at least 24 hours after imbibing for a breathalyzer test not to detect alcohol. More importantly, wait 24 hours to be able to drive safely. If there is a chance you will drink alcohol at a party or event, no matter how little, arrange a sober ride home ahead of time. Choose a designated driver or hail a taxi or rideshare vehicle. Do not run the risk of driving buzzed.