Drinking tonight? Why 'sober mornings' may be riskier for driving and how to check your sobriety
Consider a situation where a party carries on late into the night with ample alcohol. The following day, you need to drive to work. Without a breathalyzer, it's challenging to ascertain whether the alcohol has entirely left your system. There aren't other reliable methods. The rule that purports if you feel good, you can drive, and if you feel unwell, you should refrain from doing so, is misleading.
So why can feeling good be risky? Feeling well after consuming significant amounts of alcohol suggests a high concentration of alcohol in your body. This is exactly why you might feel good.
Feeling unwell usually follows when the alcohol levels in the body decrease rapidly, but not necessarily to zero. We typically refer to this state as a hangover, characterized by discomfort, fatigue, and poor mood. Should a hangover and symptoms of inebriation like dizziness subside, it may (but not definitively!) suggest that you are sober.
Should you trust online alcohol calculators?
There are several so-called virtual breathalyzers available online. These are calculators that estimate your sobriety timeline based on inputted data. They have their pros and cons.
While they aren't actual measuring tools, the readings they give don't always represent reality. However, they are programmed to provide sobriety information with a safety buffer. Therefore, if your rate of intoxication and sobriety is average, you can likely trust these calculators. If you get intoxicated quickly and take longer to sober up, it's best to disregard the results of virtual breathalyzers.
The creators of virtual breathalyzers, who don't take responsibility for the results, design them to discourage driving post alcohol consumption. Thus, even though their results aren't entirely accurate, they usually give a fair idea of when it may be safe to drive. It's similar to asking, "when will it get dark today?" to which the response is, "it will be dark by midnight".
The most affordable and straightforward method to confirm sobriety is with a disposable tester. Costing around $2.50 per unit, it's wise to have a couple on hand to cross-verify results. These devices significantly mirror the examinations conducted by police officers with screening breathalyzers (large and yellow) as they simply indicate: sober or not sober.