Drinking, driving, making the right choice

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Alcohol and the law (.08)


Drinking and driving is not only irresponsible, it’s very dangerous for you and everyone else on the road.

The Criminal Code is extremely clear. It states that it isforbidden to operate a motor vehicule when:

  • your ability to operate a motor vehicule is impaired;
  • the alcohol concentration in your blood is greater than 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, the famous “point zero eight” (.08).

For new drivers with a learner’s or probationary licence:

  • the law is even more severe;
  • It is forbidden to drive with any alcohol in your system. Zero tolerance is the rule.

But how can you tell if your faculties are impaired? How do you know if you’re over the legal limit?

Rule number 1: Know yourself

First of all, remember that there is the same amount of alcohol in standard servings of any alcoholic beverage, no matter what kind.

Teneur en alcool

Next, you have to learn how to calculate your blood alcohol content in milligrams (mg) and interpret it in terms of the “point zero eight” legal limit (80 mg).

The charts below give you an idea of what your blood alcohol content is likely to be, depending on your sex, your weight and how many drinks you have had.


Number of drinks 125 lb/57 kg 150 lb/68 kg 175 lb/80 kg 200 lb/91 kg 250 lb/113 kg
1 34 mg 29 mg 25 mg 22 mg 17 mg
2 69 mg 58 mg 50 mg 43 mg 35 mg
3 103 mg 87 mg 75 mg 65 mg 52 mg
4 139 mg 116 mg 100 mg 87 mg 70 mg
5 173 mg 145 mg 125 mg 108 mg 87 mg


Number of drinks 100 lb/45 kg 125 lb/57 kg 150 lb/68 kg 175 lb/80 kg 200 lb/91 kg
1 50 mg 40 mg 34 mg 29 mg 26 mg
2 101 mg 80 mg 68 mg 58 mg 50 mg
3 152 mg 120 mg 101 mg 87 mg 76 mg
4 203 mg 162 mg 135 mg 117 mg 101 mg
5 253 mg 202 mg 169 mg 146 mg 126 mg

It’s important to subtract 15 mg of alcohol an hour, starting from the first drink, since that is the rate at which your body eliminates the alcohol. And forget the widespread myth that says you can handle one drink an hour. It’s not true. Or rather, it’s true only if you’re a man who weighs 115 kg or more.

Also, if your liver is not functioning properly, it works less efficiently and more slowly, which slows the elimination process. Anyone with health problems should abstain from drinking or drink very moderately.

WARNING! The charts contain approximations only and should be interpreted with care. Other factors, such as fatigue, stress and medications, can affect your capacity to absorb alcohol. Your emotional and physical state can also determine your response to alcohol. In other words, you may be in no condition to drive, no matter what the charts say.

So think twice before having one too many and getting behind the wheel.

Rule number 2: Know your own limits

When it comes to alcohol, we are not all created equal. Never mind what your friends, partners or coworkers are drinking. They have their limits and you have yours.

Aside from the speed at which you’re drinking, your sex, weight and muscle mass will determine how much alcohol you can consume before being affected. Furthermore, everyone reacts differently to alcohol, depending on their individual personality traits and particular psychological state at the time of drinking.

Generally speaking, women are more sensitive to alcohol because of their size, weight and percentage body fat. Women have a higher percentage of body fat than men, which means they have a lower percentage of water, and since alcohol dissolves mostly in water, women will achieve a higher blood alcohol concentration sooner than men.

Research has also shown that women’s stomachs contain less of the enzyme responsible for breaking down alcohol. Consequently, a greater amount of alcohol reaches their bloodstream.

One standard drink for a woman is equal to about one and a half drinks for a man. In other words, it takes less alcohol for a women to be impaired than a man.

Whatever the case, never let others decide for you and, most importantly, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Life is just too short to play Russian roulette with alcohol.

Assess the situation based on how YOU feel. You know your body and your feelings don’t lie!

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