Why driving with a hangover can be as dangerous as drunk driving

On Behalf of | Jan 1, 2018 | Underage Drinking

As the responsible parent of a high school or college student, you’ve talked to your child about the health and legal risks of underage drinking (particularly binge drinking) and driving under the influence. However, there’s also another potentially dangerous alcohol-related activity that even many adults don’t consider — hungover driving.

Teens and adults may think that they’re doing the responsible thing by “sleeping it off” after a night of partying and not driving home until the next day. However, the symptoms associated with a hangover can make driving dangerous — even if a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) has returned to a legal limit. In fact, it’s the significant drop in a person’s blood alcohol level after it has been elevated that causes the hangover.

Anyone who’s had a few (or a lot) too many knows the common symptoms of a hangover like headache, nausea and sensitivity to loud noise and bright light. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, hangover symptoms can also include:

  • Shakiness or tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Fatigue

Any one or more of these symptoms can make for an unsafe driving experience.

Even if you’re not experiencing a hangover and you no longer feel intoxicated, it’s essential to remember that Maryland, like all states and Washington, D.C., has zero tolerance laws for drivers under 21. Here in Maryland, the maximum legal BAC for an underage driver suspected of DUI is .02.

As one official with the American Automobile Association (AAA) says, “After a night of drinking, many people will wake up with alcohol still in their blood.” She also notes that “driving hungover can be just as dangerous as driving after a few drinks.”

For all of the reasons discussed, it’s unwise for young people to drive the morning after a night when they’ve consumed alcohol. An attorney can provide important legal guidance if your child was arrested for underage drinking or DUI.

Source: Courier & Press, “New Year’s safety: Don’t drive hungover, either,” Michael Doyle, Dec. 30, 2017

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