How To Tell If You’re Too Drunk To Drive

I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

In virtually every state of the Union, police use only two measures to tell whether you’re carrying too much booze on your breath or in your blood. If your test comes back 0.05 to 0.079, the law presumes you really shouldn’t be driving, piles eight points on your license, but gives you another chance. If it’s 0.08 or better, the law presumes you’re drunk on your ass and you won’t be able to drive for a while.

But how can you tell when you’ve reached those levels, so you don’t make the mistake of driving yourself around town looking for cops? Rule of thumb: Unless you weigh 500 pounds, if you have more than two drinks of alcohol within half an hour of getting back in your car, you’ve likely reached one of those levels.

I prefer the old-fashioned way of telling if you’ve had too much to drink and drive. By old-fashioned, I mean real old-fashioned. By real old-fashioned, I mean 1592. The Atlantic, a magazine almost nobody reads anymore, has reprinted Thomas Nashe’s “The Eight Kindes of Drunkennes.” It’s a good read, and fiscally responsible for the magazine, because the copyright has been expired almost as long as the English pamphleteer.

Here it is, the spelling and language a little modernized, in case anyone had trouble with that Old English title:

The Eight Kinds of Drunkenness

The first is ape drunk: you leap, and sing, and holler, and dance for the heavens.

The second is lion drunk: you fling the pots about the house, call your hostess a whore, break the glass windows with your iPod, and are apt to quarrel with anyone who speaks to you.

The third is swine drunk: you feel heavy, lumpish, and sleepy, and cry for a little more drink, and a few more clothes.

The fourth is sheep drunk: you feel wise beyond belief, even though you can’t put so much as two intelligent words together.

The fifth is maudlin drunk: you weep with kindness in the midst of ale, and kiss every man, woman, and child within pucker range, saying, “By God, dude, I love you. C’mon, you don’t think so often of me as I do you. I wish to God I didn’t love you so much.” Then you put your finger to your eye, to wipe the tears.

The sixth is Martin (Luther) drunk, when you’re so drunk you feel like you have to drink yourself sober before you can move.

The seventh is goat drunk, when you’re so drunk you can’t think of anything that doesn’t have a sweet little skirt or tight pair of pants on it.

The eighth is fox drunk, crafty drunk, as many of the Dutchmen be, who will never bargain but when they are drunk.

So, which kinds of drunkenness should inspire you to call that cab?

All of them.


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