We know how difficult it is to turn down a couple of drinks after a long tiring day at the office--especially now, with the holiday season in full swing. After all, what's one bottle—or four—for the road?
But before you know it, a couple of bottles have turned into a bucket or two. And only then do you realize that your means for getting home is via the car you drove to work earlier this morning. So ask yourself, "am I still sober enough to drive?" Or is it time to suck it up and just pay for that huge overnight parking fee?
The surest way to find out is to determine your blood alcohol level via a breathalyzer. Now in some countries, bars keep these devices handy or they're required by law. Here in the Philippines? Hah. You can buy one online with prices ranging from a couple of hundred pesos to a few thousands.
In the Philippines, the legal limit for a driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.05% (0% for bus drivers and motorcycle riders). In contrast, the US BAC limit is 0.08%. With a lower BAC limit, you'd expect the Philippines to be stricter in the Anti-Drunk Driving Law's (Republic Act No. 10586) implementation—but this is another story entirely.
"What if I don't own a breathalyzer?" Ah, a legitimate question, because chances are very few people here in the Philippines do.
One more way to determine whether you’re too wasted to get behind the wheel is through online calculators or apps easily accessible on your smartphone. Here, you can compute your BAC by inputting a handful of vital statistics such as age and weight, as well as how many drinks you've had over a certain amount of time. Keep in mind that many of these websites and apps have very strong disclaimers about their accuracy and reliability. Also, metabolism, diet and other health factors need to be taken into account. Needless to say, if you're fumbling with your app because you can't focus, it's time to book a Grab/Uber ride home.
You and your buddies should also watch out for telltale signs that you've had one drink too many. According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), individuals with a BAC of 0.05% will begin to exhibit exaggerated behavior, an 'usually good feeling,' impaired judgment, lowered alertness, and reduced small muscle control (focusing vision). Past 0.05%, drunk people will show poor balance, slurred speech, impaired reasoning and memory, as well as lack of self-control.
With all this in mind, it's important to set limits and plan drunken nights out with the boys accordingly. Assign or volunteer the role of designated driver. If the responsibility falls upon your shoulders, don't drink, or at the very least limit yourself considerably. According to Aware, Awake, Alive—a non-profit organization dedicated to prevent loss of life from alcohol—a 150lb individual will consume only two bottles of beer (in one hour) before reaching a 0.05% BAC.
You can also call an Uber or Grab, or you can simply choose to drink at a friend's place or in your own home. The choice is yours. Just don't get behind the wheel.
The Anti-Drunk Driving Law carries penalties from as low as P20,000 to P500,000 and the perpetual revocation of a driver's license, depending on the severity of the offense. Or you know, you could end up dead and be the topic of the next drinking session. So again, think twice before grabbing that second bottle of beer. You'll never know if it'll be your last.