Is Being Hungover as Dangerous as Being Drunk on The Road?

Part of why you feel so awful the next day is dehydration, lack of sleep, and minor withdrawal.


Pretty much everyone knows that driving when you’re drunk isn’t okay. Had a third glass of wine? Best to take a cab rather than drive. Decided to throw caution to the wind and have a few extra beers after along day? You already knew you were going to be coming back for your car in the morning. But for most people, getting up “the morning after” and relying on a shower, a cup of coffee (or three) and a couple of ibuprofen to get you rolling in a safe way is pretty standard. And as it turns out – pretty misguided too!


Hungover drivers are actually very dangerous on the road!


According to a group of psychopharmacology researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, driving hungover is almost as dangerous as driving drunk! How is this possible, you wonder? How could getting behind the wheel hours later, after you’ve slept off the party, be as dangerous as getting behind the wheel when you’re headed home from the party? It doesn’t make sense! And yet it’s true.


The researchers found that even when a drivers’ blood alcohol (BAC) levels returned to zero the morning after a night of drinking, they showed the same degree of driving impairment as drivers who were intoxicated. According to the researchers, “The magnitude of driving impairment during alcohol hangover is comparable to a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08, i.e., over the legal limit for driving in many countries.” Wait, what? Hungover drivers drove the same way as drunk drivers? How the heck did that happen?


Test subjects drove under the influence of ‘hangovers’


A group of test subjects were recruited, and asked to perform a driving test after they had gone to bed completely sober the night before. Then, for the purposes of comparison, the test subjects were instructed to enjoy a night of drinking (no quantities were specified) and then come in to repeat their driving simulation the following morning, after they’d slept off the effects of their alcohol consumption.


The morning after their heavy drinking sessions, the test subjects all came in and had their BAC limits confirmed with a Breathalyzer test. All had returned to zero, and so the driving tests commenced. All the subjects spent the next hour driving down a simulated highway, and were required to follow road rules, observe the speed limit, and show courtesy to other drivers. And all of them failed.


Being hungover is not as different to being drunk, from your brain’s perspective!


Analysis of the data showed that for most of the morning-after drivers, their driving was so bad they may as well have been drunk! In fact, drivers with hangovers were shown to have the same unsafe driving patterns as drunk driversweaving in and out of lanes, slower response times, and being easily distracted from the road. All in all, it was determined that hungover drivers are, on the whole, no less dangerous to others on the road than drunk drivers!


The reasons are hard to pin down, but lack of sleep seems to play a major role. That, and dehydration. Driving while you’re exhausted, sometimes called “drowsy driving” is extremely dangerous and can result in fatal car crashes. So if you’ve been out for a night on the town in Grand Rapids or if you’ve been partying in Ann Arbor, be sure to drink enough water, get enough sleep, and play it safe by getting a ride to work the next day! Nobody in Michigan wants to be hospitalized because you had a fun night last night.


Don’t leave your DUI defense to chance!

At The Kronzek Firm, our highly skilled DUI defense attorneys work to give every client the best possible defense. That’s why we use a comprehensive approach, actively working with clients and not just for them. We also employ expert witnesses and use cutting edge legal defenses to fight drunk driving charges all over the lower peninsula of Michigan. As soon as you contact us at 866 766 5245, we’ll conduct a free initial case evaluation and immediately begin crafting the strong, personalized defense strategy that you deserve. We can be reached 365 days a year by calling 1 866 766 7NoJail.  


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