The Impact of Alcohol on Driving Ability

It is a well-known fact that driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous. In fact, studies show that drunk driving is a factor in about one third of fatal traffic accidents. But why is driving after drinking so hazardous? A large body of research shows that this danger is related to the effects of alcohol on a person’s mental and physical abilities.

Alcohol-Related Impairments

Drinking can cause a number of cognitive, emotional, and physical impairments. For example, the more alcohol a person consumes, the more likely he or she is to experience:

  • Reduced inhibitions – An intoxicated person is more likely to do things that he or she would not normally do. This can lead to an increase in risky or even illegal behavior, such as speeding, cutting off other drivers, or ignoring traffic lights.
  • Impaired vision – Intoxication causes the eyes to move more slowly and may affect their ability to focus. This can make it much more difficult to safely steer a vehicle.
  • Increased reaction times – People who are under the influence take longer to react to stimuli. If something changes in the environment – for example, if a pedestrian steps into the road – an impaired driver may not react in time to prevent a serious accident.
  • Drowsiness – Intoxication causes drowsiness in many people. This can make it much more difficult to focus on the task of driving. At worst, it can even cause drivers to fall asleep at the wheel.
  • Impaired coordination – People who have been drinking often experience impaired hand-eye coordination. This can make it very difficult to successfully steer, operate gas and brake pedals, or shift gears.

However, intoxicated driving is not responsible for all dangerous acts behind the wheel, and unfortunately, someone who makes a stake while driving may be wrongly charged with a DUI.