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Driving While Hungover: Could it Lead to a Crash?

driving while hungoverIt is no secret that driving while under the influence of alcohol could lead to a serious or fatal crash. It is also against the law. However, what about the next day? Is driving while hungover illegal? Does having a hangover increase the likelihood of a crash?

Below, Jay Trucks talks about the impact of driving while hungover, including whether it increases your risk of a car crash.

If another driver causes you harm, either due to being hungover or fully impaired, we are here to help. You may be eligible to seek significant compensation to help you recover from your injuries and other losses.

Need legal help after a car crash? Request your free case review today. If you choose to hire our firm, there are no upfront costs or fees to pay.

Are You Hungover or Still Legally Drunk?

Anyone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or above in Michigan is considered legally drunk under state law. If you are younger than 21 years old, that BAC threshold is even lower, at 0.02 or higher.

Depending on how much you drank and other factors, you could still be over the BAC level a few hours later, or even the next morning. There is no chart that provides an exact time for when it is safe to get behind the wheel. Everyone’s tolerance level to alcohol is different, but there are several factors that impact how long you stay drunk, such as:

  • Genetics: Your genetic makeup significantly impacts how fast your body metabolizes alcohol. Your body produces three enzymes that help to break down alcohol in your bloodstream. However, you can have different variations of these enzymes, based on your genes. This is why some people have stronger reactions to alcohol than others who consume the same amount.
  • Body weight: According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol gets distributed and diluted in the body water of an individual. The more you weigh, the more water you have in your bloodstream.
  • Gender: Women have less water in their bloodstream than men of the same weight. This means their BAC can remain higher for longer.
  • Age: Those who have a higher fat-to-muscle ratio also have less body water in their bloodstream. This is more commonly seen in older people, especially those over the age of 65.
  • Type of drink/alcohol: The type of alcohol, what is in it, including whether it is diluted by ice, soda or something else, is another consideration.
  • Medications: Certain prescription or over-the-counter medications do not mix well with alcohol. Common examples include sleeping pills, antidepressants, blood thinners and more. If you are taking medication, it is a good idea to ask your pharmacist about the risks of mixing it with alcohol.
  • General physical and emotional health: People who are not in good health, or who are overtired or stressed, may have a stronger reaction to alcohol.

Whether you have not had a drink for a few hours or it is the morning after, you can still be legally drunk. Your BAC could also still be over the limit, which means you can still be charged with a DUI.

Does Being Hungover Make It Unsafe to Drive?

Whether your BAC is over the legal limit or not, driving while hungover is not a good idea. Recent studies show that even when your BAC returns to 0.0 your body may still be affected by alcohol. This means being hungover could have an impact on your driving that is similar to being drunk.

Putting aside how much alcohol you may or may not have remaining in your bloodstream, being hungover does not feel good. Many people may feel ill, fatigued and suffer from multiple other symptoms, including:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Shakiness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty concentrating on the road
  • Blurred vision
  • Rapid heartrate
  • Increased sensitivity to sound
  • Fatigue and body/muscle weakness
  • Headache and/or muscle aches
  • Irritability and other mood disturbances
  • Feeling drowsy or tired

Any of these symptoms can make it harder for you to focus on the road or slower react to unexpected hazards. Studies show that hangovers can last up to 24 hours or longer. If you do not take the time to rest and recover before getting behind the wheel, you may be putting yourself and others in harm’s way.

Why is Driving While Hungover Dangerous?

There have been multiple studies of the effects of individuals driving while hungover. The results repeatedly show that while the driver is not technically impaired – meaning, the BAC is 0.0 – there are risks.

Drivers in these tests (most recently held in both England and the Netherlands) showed slower reaction times and an inability to maintain a steady speed. During both urban and rural tests, drivers also made more driving errors and had a harder time staying in their traffic lane.

Hungover Drivers Could Be Held Liable for a Crash

If you cause a crash while hungover, you could be held liable for the damages. If your blood alcohol content is not yet below the legal limit, you also run the risk of being charged with a DUI.

What if a Driver With a Hangover Causes My Crash

Regardless of who caused the crash, you can begin medical treatment for your injuries under your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Be aware that if the at-fault driver was impaired, some insurance carriers require notification within 24 hours of the crash.

This is a reason we strongly recommend calling our knowledgeable Grand Rapids car accident lawyers right away. It is critical to know how Michigan’s no-fault system works if your crash involved an impaired driver.

Call Our Firm to Discuss Your Legal Situation Today

Drivers who drive while hungover and cause a crash may be held liable for your damages. Contact our law offices to discuss your situation and legal options today. There is no cost for your initial case review. If you choose to hire our firm, we also do not charge you anything up front. We only get paid if you do.

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