Study Shows Just How Much Alcohol Can Affect a Person’s Judgment

One of the unfortunate realities of alcohol consumption is that it can surreptitiously affect a person’s ability to make sound judgments. For instance, many people who have consumed only a few drinks mistakenly believe that they are okay to drive home, only to find themselves in the back of a squad car a short time later after a police officer measures their breath alcohol concentration as being well over the legal limit.

Interestingly, researchers at the University of Missouri recently conducted a study in which they sought to examine the impact that alcohol can have on a person’s judgments about drunk driving.

The researchers gathered 82 people in their early 20s — 39 women and 43 men — and asked them about their views on drunk driving and their willingness to get behind the wheel after drinking. However, they made these inquiries in two decidedly different situations, including once when the subjects were sober and once when they’d consumed a moderate amount of alcohol.

What did they discover?

The study, published in the online edition of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, found that the majority of the subjects changed their views on drunk driving after consuming the alcohol.

Specifically, they discovered that the biggest difference in perceptions about drunk driving were found when the test subjects were coming down from their peak breath alcohol concentration, meaning they thought it was far safer to drive in that particular circumstance than they did while sober.

According to the study authors, the study results should serve as a valuable reminder to people of all ages not to overestimate their ability to drive safely after consuming even a small amount of alcohol.

“We showed that there are bigger effects on the descending limb of the (breath alcohol concentration) curve, which is important because that’s when people are typically driving home,” said the primary author of the study. “People on the way down (the breath alcohol concentration curve) later in the evening are worse judges of how impaired they are, and they’re more impaired than they think.”

If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney who will explain your options, and fight to protect your future and your freedom.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, “People’s beliefs on drunk driving may change when they’re drunk,” Maureen Salamon, September 12, 2013

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