Driving: Drinking and Driving versus Driving Drunk

According to the law in Texas (and in the rest of the US to an extent), if you are stopped behind the wheel of a car under the influence of alcohol you will go to jail. This doesn’t stop people trying it. Indeed, I’ve taken to driving after a few beers because there is no other way to do it. A few weeks ago Joe and I headed out for a drink and dinner while watching some football. A pitcher of Miller Lite between us we had a big massive burger and then I drove home – it was probably a pint plus some, but not much more. It was only a couple miles down the road (literally, in fact) and I was nowhere near over the limit (the Lite in Miller Lite suggests that not only does it taste like lukewarm pish, but that it has a lower than normal level of alcohol compared to the other bbers on tap). However, the reason why I can reconcile this total difference to my opinions in the UK towards alcohol drinking while driving is threefold.

- It is socially acceptable here. This isn’t the reason why I did it, but it does mean that there are less people wondering why you are doing it.
- It is almost impossible to not do it. I can’t jump into a taxi and drive to the nearest pub because there are so few taxis around.
- You can’t walk anywhere. This isn’t a joke – my apartments are situated on a main street but we are miles from the nearest bar. In the Houston scheme of things this is nothing, but in my UK style of things it’s crazy not to just be able to “pop off to the pub”. It is a big difference.

On Friday night I got drunk on beer and gin and tonic. It was the first time that myself or Joe had been able to drink together since noramlly one of us had to be “the driver” every time we go out. That night, on the roof top bar looking over downtown, we witnessed a couple of banjoed girls trying to get into their car. The valet let them, and then the police pulled her out of the 4x4 and made her take a sobriety test – the whole “walk the line” thing. It was interesting to see, and she got booked for it. Seeing as she fell onto the hood/bonnet of a car in the lot/car park it probably wasn't an edge case.

In all fairness, living here isn’t going to make me drive drunk. That’s just being stupid. But whereas in the UK I wouldn’t even consider driving after one beer, it’s impossible not to here. I can’t figure out if that means that there are more designated drivers here (that the propensity of people need a driver means that, like myself and my friends, there is always someone explicitly chosen to be so) or that there are more drink drivers (people who drink, get drunk and then drive) than in the UK. People drive after drinking less, so there’s less chance of a designated driver, but does that mean less or more drink drivers? Iit’s a strange question.