Why Driving While Hungover Could Increase the Risk of an Ohio Crash

We have all heard a lot about the dangers of impaired driving. These messages are promoted throughout the media and on the internet.

Despite all this messaging about how alcohol can affect drivers, most people are not that concerned about driving while they are dealing with the symptoms of a hangover. Although it is not technically against the law, driving with a hangover is still dangerous and could increase the risk of a crash.

Below, Friedman, Domiano and Smith’s experienced Cleveland auto accident attorneys discuss the effects of driving while hungover and potential risks involved.

If you were injured in a car crash due to the negligence of a hungover or drunk driver, we may be able to help you. Our Cleveland-based auto accident lawyers have been representing car crash victims for more than four decades and have obtained millions on their behalf. Call us to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.

No upfront costs or fees. Call today: 216-621-0070.

Why do People Experience Hangovers?

A hangover is a commonly used term to explain the body’s reaction to alcohol consumption. Alcohol affects your body like a diuretic, causing dehydration. Alcoholic drinks can also disrupt your sleep and blood sugar levels, contributing to the discomfort of a hangover.

Contrary to popular belief, individuals may experience hangover symptoms within just a few hours after they consume their last drink.

Your individual tolerance level, type of alcohol you consume, your weight and your age are all factors that may influence how quickly you experience a hangover, or whether you experience a hangover at all. These factors can also determine the duration and severity of your hangover.

The symptoms of a hangover can persist from a few hours up to 24 hours after drinking, leaving your body with less ability to function normally, especially while driving.

Research on How Hangovers May Affect Drivers

Studies have revealed alarming correlations between hangovers and compromised driving abilities. For example, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine in 2020 found that an alcohol hangover can affect the ability to pay attention to a variety of things on the road.

The degree of impairment is like driving while drunk or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 percent. This was true even for those who had a BAC of zero. This was the first study to show a hangover could significantly impair driving during a trip to work the morning after consuming alcohol.

People who drive with a BAC between 0.05 to 0.08 may experience:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Increased fatigue, further impairing your ability to stay alert
  • Blurred vision, which can hinder your ability to navigate safely
  • Heightened risk of distraction, leading to a reduced ability to concentrate
  • Slower reaction time, which increases the likelihood of being involved in a collision
  • Mild euphoria, which may contribute to a false sense of confidence in driving abilities
  • Reduced inhibitions, leading to a willingness to take risks drivers might otherwise avoid
  • Decreased coordination, which could result in difficulty maintaining control of the vehicle

Is It Against the Law To Drive With a Hangover?

Ohio, like every other state, has laws against impaired driving, which includes driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The legal limit for BAC in Ohio is 0.08. If a driver’s BAC is above this limit, he or she can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or operating a vehicle impaired (OVI).

While driving with a hangover itself is not illegal, if a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle is significantly impaired due to a hangover, it might be possible to charge the driver with OVI. Police officers may say erratic driving behavior, such as swerving, speeding as well as other signs of impairment, made the driver unfit to drive safely.

Even if there are no criminal consequences, if a hungover motorist causes a crash, he or she could be held liable for the damages caused, including injuries, medical care and more.

How a Hangover Could Cause an Ohio Collision

Hangover symptoms negatively affect your ability to drive safely. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Slowed reaction time: Hangovers make you feel sluggish and tired, slowing down your reflexes and response time to unexpected road hazards or changes in traffic conditions.
  • Impaired coordination: Hangover symptoms like dizziness or muscle weakness can impair your coordination and motor skills, making it challenging to maneuver the vehicle effectively or execute simple actions, such as braking or steering.
  • Decreased focus and concentration: Hangovers can cause headaches and blurred vision. These effects can distract you and diminish your ability to stay focused on the road ahead or react promptly to potential dangers.
  • Moodiness: Mood swings, irritability or heightened stress levels, are often caused by your hangover and negatively impact your decision-making. This can lead to impulsive or aggressive behaviors on the road.
  • Hypersensitivity: Hangovers may heighten your sensitivity to light, noise or motion, which can become dangerous distractions while driving.
  • Tendency for risky behavior: Hangover-induced fatigue or discomfort may influence you to take unnecessary risks, such as speeding or tailgating. Aggressive driving like this increases your risk of causing or getting into an accident.
  • Delayed cognitive processing: Impaired cognitive functions, such as memory, attention and judgment are also connected with hangovers, making it difficult for you to make sound, quick decisions.
  • Nausea or vomiting: Nausea or vomiting due to a hangover can create sudden and uncontrollable physical reactions while you are driving. You may brake suddenly in flowing traffic or lose control of the vehicle.
  • Adverse interactions with medications: If you consume alcohol while taking certain medications, the effects of a hangover may be compounded, further compromising your driving abilities.

Should You Avoid Driving While Hungover?

Driving while hungover poses significant risks, impairing vital driving functions and increasing the likelihood of accidents. Given these risks, it would be best to avoid getting behind the wheel until all hangover symptoms subside.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of a hangover, prioritizing rest will allow your body the time it needs to recover from the effects of alcohol. If you absolutely need to get somewhere while you are hungover, you should use a ridesharing service, get a ride from a friend or family member, or call a cab.

Did an Impaired Driver Cause Your Injuries? Discuss Your Options With Friedman, Domiano and Smith

If you were injured in a crash caused by a driver who was under the influence of alcohol, we encourage you to seek legal counsel. The experienced lawyers at Friedman, Domiano and Smith can help you determine whether you may have a case.

If we take your case, there are no upfront costs or fees, and we do not get paid unless we recover compensation on your behalf.

Millions Recovered. Zero Upfront Costs. Contact us today: 216-621-0070


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