Things That Affect Driving
In a DUI case the prosecution aims at showing how alcohol impaired your ability to drive. However, there are factors other than the amount of alcohol that you have consumed that affect how your driving is changed when you drink. These other factors can result in a driving ability that is either better or worse than might otherwise be expected based on a particular Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) measurement.
Tolerance to alcohol
Habitual use of alcohol changes the way that alcohol affects us, so that regular drinkers can become desensitized to alcohol to some degree, so that it takes larger doses to have the same effect that they might have on someone else.
One scientific study found that 24% of test subjects showed no signs of clinical intoxication notwithstanding Blood Alcohol Concentration levels of .20% or higher.
Similarly, another study found that 30% of its test subjects had little clinical evidence of intoxication with Blood Alcohol Concentration levels over .30%.
And another study showed that within a Blood Alcohol Concentration range from .08% to .10% frequent drinkers have a lower probability of accidents than people who are infrequent drinkers.
The conclusion from these studies is that regular drinkers build up a tolerance to alcohol so that for them the standard assumptions and correlations between Blood Alcohol Concentration level and performance do not apply.
Hangovers may cause impairment
Scientific studies seem to conflict on the question of whether or not a hangover impairs cognitive ability and driving ability.
One study with airplane pilots on simulated flights indicated that pilot performance was worse with a hangover.
However, other studies have indicated that a hangover does not cause impairment.
Motivation can reduce the impairment affect of alcohol
In one study, test subjects who were under the influence of alcohol were given certain information processing tasks. Subjects who were told that they would be paid for doing well showed no cognitive impairment, while those who were not paid performed poorly. The people conducting the test concluded that the monetary reward enabled the subjects to resist the impairing effects of alcohol.
Low quantities of alcohol might actually increase performance
In a study that gave subjects varying amounts of alcohol with a meal, subjects who had low amounts of alcohol showed increased performance on cognitive tasks.
Another drunk driving study found that driver’s performance increased for many drivers between the levels of .01% to .04%. When the people who ran the test looked more closely at this they realized that the people who performed better after low levels of alcohol had different characteristics than other drivers, and noted that frequent drinkers have less risk at all blood alcohol concentration levels as compared to less frequent drinkers.
Food can reduce the effects of alcohol on performance
Prior ingestion of food will lower a subsequent blood alcohol concentration level, and also reduce the effects of alcohol. A study on the effect of eating a meal prior to drinking showed that impairment was significantly reduced for subjects who had eaten before drinking.
A Merced DUI attorney can help with your drunk driving case
Dealing with an unfavorable Blood Alcohol Concentration result can be difficult. However, there are ways that an experienced DUI lawyer can suggest that there are factors that can affect a person’s impairment in ways that are not shown by the Blood Alcohol Concentration level.
If you are not already represented by a Merced or Mariposa DUI lawyer, consider asking for our evaluation of your drunk driving case. Complete the short Case Evaluation Form to the left, or you may contact our office.
Jeffrey A. Tenenbaum