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Dale Gribow Feb. 17, 2015

We have all seen this warning on our pill bottles, but what does it mean? While dining over the weekend with our banker, the pharmacist's warning for certain drugs, such as Ambien and diet pills, came up. I explained when you combine the alcohol with certain drugs it creates potentiation. This combination increases the effect of the alcohol and you are much more under the influence than you would have been with alcohol alone.

The banker and my wife had learned to drive on a tractor on a farm. Everyone at my table originally thought the warning meant heavy equipment like a tractor. I hate to admit it, but so did I at one time. This admonition obviously means not to drink and drive a car.

Why don't we say what we mean when we talk about Drinking and Driving? This also applies to the DMV warning chart we get when we receive our new California driver's license. The chart shows your weight and how many drinks you can have before you are under the influence. Once again we are not communicating-it is not the number of drinks, but rather the amount of alcohol in each drink. Thus, if a bartender tries to be nice and pours 2-3 oz. of alcohol in your drink, he is not doing you a favor. This is especially true if you don't realize what he has done and you are just keeping count of the number of drinks.

A few months ago, my wife and I were at the bar at a well-known restaurant, waiting for our table. My wife ordered a glass of wine. I asked the bartender how much alcohol he pours in a wine glass. His answer was a little over 8 ounces. I explained to my wife she is having the equivalent of two glasses of wine with every drink she consumes...not one.

When we receive our new driver's license from DMV, it includes a Blood Alcohol Content Chart. It shows that 1 drink equals 5 ounces of wine, 12 oz. of beer or 1.5 oz. of alcohol. Most drivers do not realize it when they mistakenly consume more than the legal amount of alcohol.

I vividly remember a 24 year old young man entering my office with his mom for a DUI consultation. He swore to both his mother and me that he only had one drink. I told him he had a very high reading and was either lying OR the breath testing machine was broken. If this was the case, we would subpoena that specific machines maintenance records. He again said one drink.

Then I asked the young man if took take a 16 oz. red Costco cup and filled it 2/3 of the way with Vodka and then topped it off with orange juice. He said yes. I explained he had just consumed 12 oz. of alcohol which equaled 12 drinks.......his response, "OH!"

Last summer I had 4 women between the ages of 77 and 85 years old who all had their first offense DUI. They did not know each other and coincidentally all had been arrested after a wedding, lunch at Tommy Bahamas etc. They did not realize they had consumed too much alcohol. Since they each only weighed around 100 lbs. it only took 1 generously poured drink from the bartender for them to consume too much.

One of the ladies intentionally did not drive to the off property going away dinner with friends leaving for the summer. In order to avoid drinking and driving, she drove her car to her neighbor's house so that her neighbor could drive her to dinner to meet friends. After dinner, drinks, and dancing, she picked up her car to drive a few blocks to her home.

Because she was under the influence, she mistakenly drove out the back gate and could not get back in so she was forced to drive around to the front entrance. On her way back into the club, she guessed it... Palm Desert Sheriffs.

The bottom line, whether you are drinking and taking a pill or just drinking,