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Studies Indicate Driving Hung Over Just as Risky As Drunk Driving

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We all are familiar with the dangers of drinking and driving.  We have been inundated with infomercials and other mediums about the risks of serious injuries or fatalities resulting from a drunk driver.  “Sleeping it off” before getting behind the wheel has always been seen as the responsible choice.  However, the results of two recent studies show that driving on the morning after consuming alcohol may not be safe either.  In fact, the studies show that driving with a hangover is just as serious and driving drunk.

In the first study, Associate Professor Chris Alford from the University of the West of England experimented on the ability to drive after a night of drinking.  Participants were asked to drive for 20 minutes in a simulation that involved both urban and rural settings. The study showed that although legally sober, the hung-over participants likely to have an increase in speed variability, driving errors and deviation from driving position. These drivers also had poor reaction times.

In a separate study by Dr. Joris Verster from UtrechtUniversity, 47 volunteers underwent a one-hour simulated driving test the morning after a night of heavy drinking.  The study showed that while the blood-alcohol level had returned to zero, their ability to operate a vehicle was still dramatically impaired subjects showed increased weaving and inability to maintain attention of the road at the same rate as someone with BAC of 0.05.

In both studies the subjects did not drive until the alcohol had left their systems, yet were still feeling the effects of the night before.  Clearly, this shows that driving hung-over is just as serious as driving under the influence.  According to the research, hang-over symptoms include thirst and dehydration, drowsiness and fatigue, headache and problems concentrating.

In order to be safe on our roadways, not only avoid drinking and driving, but stay off the road when you are hung over, too.

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  1. Vern Dennis says:
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    Never myself having had a hangover, I can’t speak personally as to the effects of a hangover; however, I’ve seen people with hangovers, and there is no way their concentration can possibly be at peak levels. If there concentration is not at peak levels, this means, if only indirectly, that they are driving distracted.

    From a legal perspective, a driver with a hangover will test as sober, meaning there is probably no way to determine for sure if a driver was fighting a hangover from the night before.

    For one thing, some drinkers don’t suffer the effects of a hangover, or perhaps don’t suffer them to the same degree. Another problems is that if you are trying to establish that a driver had been drunk and now was suffering the effects of a hangover, the evidence will be anecdotal at best, unless the driver had been tested the night before for blood alcohol.

    I for one, would expect a higher standard of evidence if one is trying to up the ante by claiming a driver was impaired. Of course, in the absence of any sobriety tests, the negligence case still exists and should suffice.