Driving any sort of motor vehicle, whether a motorbike, car, truck, or van, while under the influence of alcohol is a crime punishable by jail time, fines, probation, community service, or court-ordered addiction treatment.
DUIs can refer to people getting caught driving while using alcohol or drugs. However, this article’s discussion surrounds alcohol use and strives to answer one of the most commonly asked questions, “If I get a DUI, do I have a drinking problem?”
DUI and Alcoholism: Does a DUI Usually Indicate Addiction?
In most states, an impaired driver charged with a DUI is automatically classified as having a drinking problem. However, getting a DUI does not necessarily mean you have an alcohol use disorder.
In many cases, people who get DUIs may simply not know how to drink in moderation or gauge their intoxication, or they need to learn responsibility and call a taxi or get an Uber. However, in the case of repeat offenders, it is likely they already have or are in the process of developing an alcohol addiction.
What Are the Dangers of Drinking and Driving?
Whether you have a drinking problem, suffer from alcoholism, or have simply overindulged, there are many dangers of driving a car after becoming intoxicated. These dangers include:1
- Slower reactions: Alcohol is a sedative and significantly slows your reaction time. If someone brakes in front of you or you spot someone crossing the road, you may not be able to react fast enough to prevent an accident that could cause severe damage or even death.
- Impaired coordination: Drinking heavily can affect your coordination and motor skills, making it difficult or impossible to react properly when in a situation that requires quick or decisive action.
- Reduced concentration: No matter how much alcohol you use, or whether you are tipsy or entirely intoxicated, alcohol can dramatically reduce your concentration and make it difficult to focus on the road in front of you.
- Poorer vision: Impaired vision can quickly lead to sporadic movements and a possible accident in any driving situation. Alcohol negatively affects your vision, leading to an increased risk of getting into a serious accident.
- Lack of judgment: Judgment is a critical factor in your driving skills. Alcohol reduces your ability to make sound, rapid judgments, which can be fatal if you are involved in a situation that needs you to react quickly.
In most of the United States, an alcohol evaluation is required for an individual charged with a DUI or caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.08%.
An alcohol evaluation involves an inspector or counselor determining to what extent the individual’s life has been affected by alcohol. The assessment usually consists of an interview where you are asked a range of questions to decide whether or not you have an alcohol addiction or drinking problem and, if so, how serious the issue is.
In some cases, the counselor will recommend addiction treatment or education if the individual is abusing alcohol or has a significant drinking problem.2
Signs of Alcohol Addiction
If you are unsure whether or not you or a loved one may have an alcohol addiction, the following warning signs are indicators there may be a problem:3
- Being unable to limit or reduce your alcohol consumption at will
- Trying and failing to reduce the amount you drink
- Spending most of your time drinking or recovering from hangovers
- Having intense cravings for alcohol
- Continuing drinking even after your intoxication causes harm to yourself or others
- Realizing you need to drink more alcohol to get the same effect
- Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms whenever you haven’t had a drink in a while
- Choosing to drink instead of attending social or familial events
- Lying about how much or how often you drink alcohol
Why It’s Important to Seek Help
If you believe you or a loved one may have an alcohol or substance abuse problem, it is important to seek help from an addiction treatment center or rehab.
Letting your condition become worse could lead to serious consequences, including death, injury to you or others on the road, jail time, fines, or probation. Getting help could be the catalyst that leads you to a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Some of the best ways to get treatment or help for your drinking problem or alcohol addiction include:
- Joining a support group: Support groups follow a highly effective 12-step plan that can help you reach and maintain sobriety for the long term.
- Getting addiction treatment: Whether you have been charged with drunk driving or not, getting addiction treatment if you have alcoholism or alcohol addiction is vital to ensure you stay healthy and not harm the people around you. Treatment options may include outpatient, residential, or inpatient rehab programs.
Alcohol Abuse Treatment Programs
If you choose to seek professional help for your drinking issues, your best option is participating in a rehab program.
After an alcohol detox, your next step is to participate in a longer residential or outpatient treatment. Adelante Recovery Center offers treatment facilities and services specifically catering to alcohol addiction through the use of the 12-step program and cognitive behavioral therapy, among other treatment modalities, to help you reach sobriety.
If a loved one or you are struggling with a drinking problem or addiction, contact our team today at (949) 427-9099 to get the help and information you need to enter treatment.