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Driving with a Hangover Decreases Cognitive Functioning

Posted on in DUI Defense

DuPage County DUI defense attorney, driving with a hangover, DUI charges, DUI laws, Illinois DUI defenseThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that between 2003-2012, 3,866 people will killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in Illinois. Additionally, 2.2 percent of Illinois drivers reported driving after drinking too much, as compared to the national average of 1.9 percent in 2012.

These statistics clearly show that driving while intoxicated is dangerous and deadly. But what about driving with a hangover?

Esurance, an Allstate Company, provides answers to this question and they are quite disturbing. In agreement with the CDC as to the hazards of driving under the influence, Esurance warns that studies indicate how driving with a hangover is just as dangerous.

The Association of Psychological Science published data on this hazard and references a study conducted by Utrecht University. Joris Verster, a leading psychopharmacologist, found that when a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) returns to zero following a night of drinking, the same degree of cognitive impairments remain as if a driver’s BAC was over the legal limit—the physical effects can last up to 20 hours.

Verster and his research team concluded that driving while hungover is equivalent to driving with a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08 percent. In Illinois, drivers who have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher are considered alcohol-impaired by law. However, a driver with a BAC between .05 and .08 may be convicted of DUI if additional evidence shows he or she was impaired.

Study Participants' Blood Alcohol Content

The Utrecht University study’s participants, 24 women and 24 men, were asked to visit the lab and take part in two driving tests. The first test stipulated no alcohol the evening beforehand. The second required that participants appear after an evening of drinking.

When returning with a hangover in hand, the 48 volunteers consented to a breathalyzer test to ensure that their BAC had in fact returned to zero, indicating that they were no longer intoxicated.

Driving Simulation

The driving simulation mapped a hour long course on a closed highway. Even though the participants were at a zero BAC, their driving demonstrated the same cognitive difficulties as if they had an elevated BAC level.

Study Results

The participants who were hungover admitted that their driving performance was not proficient and considered their ordeal less safe, tense, and that more effort was needed to ensure safety standards.

Additionally, the text’s subjects were suffering from pain, nausea, lack of sleep, and the general ill effects of a hangover. The level of discomfort did not sway the results.

Verster and his team concluded that the “magnitude of driving impairment during alcohol hangover is comparable to a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08 percent …” Also, the research team noted that people experiencing a hangover are undergoing short-term withdrawal. Combined with other factors like dehydration and sleep deprivation, these effects can ultimately make driving dangerous.

Driving the Day After a Night of Drinking

The solution and suggestion for opting to drive while hungover basically is to relax, get a good night’s sleep, awake to a healthy breakfast, and avoid driving as much as possible.

Yet while the study demonstrates the dangers of getting behind the wheel a bit too quickly following a night of celebrating, if you get behind the wheel and your BAC has not yet returned to zero, you could face driving while under the influence charges—the revocation of one’s driving privileges, fines, or jail time. Therefore, it is essential that you speak with a skilled DUI defense attorney.

Speak with a Skilled DUI Defense Lawyer Today

If you have been charged with DUI, it is important that you discuss your case and possible defense options with a knowledgeable DuPage County DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Call McMahon Law Offices at 630-953-4400 today to schedule your free and confidential initial consultation.





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