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What Is the Difference Between Impairment and Intoxication?

November 6, 2020 | Category: DUI Accidents | Share

Is there a difference between impairment and intoxication? A Fort Myers DUI accident lawyer says, “Yes, there is a difference, but both are dangerous when a person considers driving after drinking.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) defines impairment and intoxication.


Impairment – Impairment is the point where one’s intake of alcohol or drugs affects their ability to perform appropriately.

When alcohol is consumed, the impairment process begins with the first drink. When a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level is low, they may not appear to be impaired, but they are. MADD says his/her judgment, coordination, and reaction time have been affected.

It does take time for alcohol to leave the stomach and enter the bloodstream and as it does so, a person may continue to become more impaired for a period following his/her last drink.

Intoxication – Intoxication is a legal term that establishes a certain level of alcohol in the blood at the point of impairment severe enough that criminal sanctions are enforced for driving, according to MADD.

The illegal limit for alcohol intoxication is 0.08 BAC. All people are intoxicated at 0.08 BAC. State laws say it is illegal for those under the age of 21 to drink and illegal to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in the bloodstream.


Impairment – MADD says that drug impairment varies depending on the drug. For example, ibuprofen, an over-the-counter drug, may not cause any impairment. However, a drug such as heroin can cause significant impairment immediately, and impairment can last for hours.

According to a Florida court, impairment means a worsening or diminishment in some material respect, i.e., the drug(s) must have affected a person’s mental or physical abilities significantly.

Harmful chemicals are defined by Florida statute. The list includes nitrous oxide, isopropyl alcohol, and a number of chemicals (such as acetone and toluene) found in chemical solvents.

Florida’s controlled substance list includes:

  • opioids
  • opiates
  • stimulants
  • hallucinogens
  • benzodiazepines
  • cannabinoids

Fort Myers Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Randall Spivey says, “If you or a loved one is injured in an accident, please contact our experienced Fort Myers drunk driving accident team after seeking medical attention. We are available 24/7, and there are no costs or attorney fees until we receive a monetary recovery for you.”


Fort Myers DUI Accident Attorney  Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one percent (1%) of Florida attorneys.  He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida.  For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll-free at 1.888.477.4839, or by email to  Visit for more information.  You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County at 239.793.7748.


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Fort Myers, Florida 33912

(239) 337-7483

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