Drinking And Riding Your Motorcycle, How to Manage A Dangerous Combination
Drinking alcohol, even in small amounts, is not recommended while operating a motorcycle, but if you’ve ever attended a motorcycle event or rally, you know the reality is that people do indeed drink and then ride. While it may not be the smartest course of action, people regularly drink and then drive their cars, and that should be yet another red flag for motorcyclists.
You sharing the road with drunk drivers after you yourself have had a few too many? That reads like a nightmare scenario.
In the real world, you should at least know the consequences and biology involved in consuming alcohol and riding your bike, so to that end, here’s a little primer on how alcohol affects your judgement and what John Law has to say on the matter:
Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC, is a number which reflects the amount of alcohol in relation to the amount of blood in the body as a percentage. While alcohol is eliminated, as a general rule, in the body at the rate of almost one drink per hour, a wide variety of other factors influence the level of alcohol retained as BAC.
The more alcohol in your blood, the greater the degree of impairment, that’s a given.
These three factors determine and influence your BAC number:
- The amount of alcohol consumed
- How quickly you managed to drink that alcohol
- Your total body weight and the fat content of your body in relation to your total weight
Some other factors are also in place in regard to how alcohol affects your system and your reaction time. Your sex, physical condition and food intake – or lack of it – all cause your BAC levels to fluctuate. The full effects of alcohol on the human body aren’t easy to quantify, so any baseline rules of thumb are subject to enormous variation.
Keep in mind that alcohol will certainly accumulate in your body even if you are drinking at a “safe” rate of one drink per hour, and your ability to operate a motorcycle will surely be impaired to some degree after consuming as little as a single drink or beer. A 12-ounce can or bottle of beer, a mixed drink containing a one-and-one-half ounce shot of liquor, a five-ounce glass of wine and a twelve-ounce wine cooler all contain roughly the same percentage of alcohol, so don’t think there’s any advantage to drinking a particular concoction. Keep in mind that no mater how fast you pound them down, once the individual drinks are absorbed in your system, it still takes the same amount of time for your BAC to fall to legal levels.
This is how it breaks down over the course of time:
- Consuming 7 drinks in 3 hours would mean the alcohol content of 4 drinks would still be in your system.
- Consuming 4 drinks in 2 hours would mean your BAC would show 2 drinks remaining in your system.
You can see the problem here. Though are larger person, such as Your Humble Author, might not accumulate as high a concentration of alcohol for each drink put away as a smaller person, impaired judgment and skills are present way, way below the legal limit.
What Drinking and Driving Could Mean to You In a Legal Sense
In New York State and Michigan, a driver with a BAC of .08% or above is legally intoxicated. In some states, the legal limit may be as high as .10% or as low as .05%. You might think you’re sober and capable of operating your bike, but your opinion won’t do you a bit of good when you’re faced with a breath or urine test to determine whether or not you’re operating your motorcycle legally.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your insurance company will surely consider refusing to pay medical costs incurred during a crash suffered while you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even if the crash was no fault of your own.
If you’re convicted of a drunk riding offense, you are in for a world of hurt, my friend. Most states impose brutal penalties for anyone convicted of drinking and riding, and in most states, those penalties are mandatory and judges must impose them regardless of extenuating circumstances.
Here’s a list of the agonies you can expect if you’re convicted of drinking and riding:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) for a BAC over .08% results in a minimum 6-month license revocation
- Driving While Ability Impaired by a Drug generally gets you a 6-month suspension, and a minimum 1-year license revocation for any conviction which happens within 10 years of any previous alcohol or drug violation
- DWAI at the .05% BAC level can net you a 90-day suspension and a minimum 6-month revocation for conviction of this type of offense committed within 5 years of any previous alcohol or drug violation.
- If you’re a rider under 21, expect a minimum 1-year revocation of your license and a second violation will net you a minimum 1-year revocation which could last until you turn 21.
- If you refuse a chemical test, expect a 1-year revocation of your license.
- Most state courts must hit you with a mandatory fine in addition to the painful hits you’ll take listed above. Depending on the type of conviction, those fines will range from $300 to $10,000, so failure to heed the laws of your state is going to prove costly in a lot of ways.
- Think you’re done now? Think again. You’re probably going to get hit with some Community Service duty, and that means picking up litter along the highway or some other embarrassing duty.
- Factor in lawyer’s fees, time lost from work for your court appearances and the time you’ll spend attending alcohol or drug-education programs, and you’re out a whole bunch of money and time.
While drinking and riding is just a really, really bad idea, you should at least take the time to educate yourself on the consequences of doing it anyway and by virtue of your knowledge, avoid the legal ramifications of drinking and riding.
Stay safe, and come back to Motorcycleinsurance.com again for more information of operating your machine safely and legally…