First, of course, it helps to define “impaired.” Perfectly alert, with perfect judgment, perfect physical ability, and perfect training/experience describes nobody on earth, which makes every single human being “impaired” to some extent, if compared to perfection. If not perfection, to what is it compared? Who decides? And why? A person’s physical abilities and judgment is relative to so many things, and the perception of those things is subjective and individual.
Don’t think so? Try this: You say you are hungry, thirsty, or tired… Even if you can begin to articulate any measurable criteria that would apply to everyone (go ahead and try… I’ll wait…), are you really willing for someone else to define hunger or thirst, etc. for YOU – and dictate what you must or must not do in that case?
Who, then, is responsible for setting limits for your impairment if you drink, oversleep, take drugs, or any of the hundreds, maybe thousands of things that would seriously (you decide) reduce your physical and mental ability to exercise good judgment and not harm others, whatever it is you are doing.
YOU are responsible for all of that. You as an individual, and you are responsible for any consequences that result from those decisions. So it is up to you to know your limits, determine when, where and why you might become impaired, and take reasonable precautions to avoid either being harmed or harming others.
For example, the DUI “laws” do not measurably reduce the risk of a truly drunk driver, and they most certainly do not compensate anyone who is injured by such a person. It is up to individuals to decide not to drink and drive impaired, but nobody can honestly decide what that means – for you – except you. One rational precaution for those who choose to drink outside their own homes is the option of designating one of their number to remain sober and become the “designated driver.”
Now, hang onto your hats and take a deep breath because we are about to round a corner and change gears…
Same for shooting or carrying a gun. You should know when these are not safe activities and take rational precautions. But it goes well beyond impairment presenting a danger to others. In this case your impairment from drinking, or whatever, seriously affects your ability to defend yourself or your loved ones. You are probably at no greater risk of being attacked, usually, but you would then be at a serious disadvantage no matter how well you were armed or trained.
Maybe think about a “designated shooter?”
I gave all of this a great deal of thought after experiencing a serious adverse reaction to a medication I took last week after some dental work. I was unable to stand or walk for hours, and doubt if I could have reached a phone or the gun in the holster by my bed. Since I live alone, I was helpless and frightened. It took several days before I felt normal, and I didn’t leave my house at all until then, using much of that time to rethink my limits, my preparations and my training.
One thing I’m sure of…. I won’t be taking any of that stuff again, and I’m not going to do anything that would impair my ability to defend myself – not if I can help it.
When do you consider yourself impaired? What precautions do you take then? Or have you ever given it any thought?