On December 12, 2016, Michael Floyd was found unconscious at the wheel of his car in the middle of the night in Scottsdale, Arizona. The police woke him up and measured his blood alcohol content (BAC). Floyd registered a BAC of .217, way over the legal limit to drive (.08 BAC). Floyd was contained by the police and could face harsh punishment. Arizona law states that anyone driving with a BAC over .15 faces very harsh punishments, and has even harsher penalties for those with a BAC over .2. Floyd now faces extremely harsh punishment, including a 45-day jail sentence and fines totaling 1,000 dollars. If Floyd is found driving under the influence again within 84 month, he faces even harsher penalties: $1500 in fines, a suspended license for up to a year, and installation of an interlock ignition device in all vehicles, which won’t let you start your vehicle if your BAC is over .08.
This is not the first DUI for Floyd. In 2011, Floyd was arrested on the Notre Dame campus with a blood alcohol content of .19. Floyd is a very talented receiver, accumulating 3,700 yards and 37 touchdowns during his tenure at Notre Dame, and being drafted 12th overall in the 2012 NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals. In the NFL, Floyd has been solid, totaling over 3,000 yards and 20 TDs in his first 4 seasons. This season, however, he has seen a noticeable dropoff in production, with only 450 yards and 4 touchdowns, the worst statistical season of his career. He was recently waived by the Arizona Cardinals and signed by the New England Patriots. It will be interesting to see if New England keeps him on the roster for very long, but New England coach Bill Belichick did say that he was “aware of his situation when we claimed him. He’s in an ongoing legal situation; I’m not going to comment on [It].”
Alcohol is a depressant—it slows down and impairs the central nervous system. Driving with even a small amount of alcohol in your blood can cause a myriad of negative symptoms and actions, including impaired vision, slowed reaction times, a lapse in vigilance and concentration, increased drowsiness, dissociation, difficulty multitasking, and over-confidence which can lead to unnecessary risks such as speeding and driving recklessly. All of these negative effects can manifest when driving with a blood alcohol content of .08. Michael Floyd was driving with a BAC of .21. At .10, your speech slurs, you have difficulty making decisions, and you cannot make proper lane changes or brake efficiently. At .15, you may vomit, lose control of your muscles, lose balance, and become unable to control your vehicle. At .2 you begin to feel extremely disorientated, become unaware of your surroundings, and risk blacking out. The fact that Floyd was behind a wheel with BAC more than 2.5 times higher than the legal limit is certainly frightening, and it was extremely lucky that no one else was hurt..
Most people are not aware of their impairments when they are drunk. People go to a party, have a few—or many—drinks, and feel fine. Then they get in a car and crash, injuring or killing themselves and others. How did this happen? After all, they felt fine. At .08 BAC, people usually feel that their driving skills are not impaired, but perhaps even enhanced, which can lead to unnecessary risk taking. People have different alcohol tolerances. Some can feel wasted after one or two drinks, and some feel fine after many more. But no matter how you feel, getting behind the wheel after drinking any alcohol is dangerous. Even if you’ve just had one drink, you should never get behind a wheel.
It is certainly possible that Floyd’s actions are a result of emotional distress and frustration. It will be interesting to see how the rest of his career unfolds.