Alcohol and Its Effects on Older Drivers
Drinking and driving is not a good idea for anyone, but the behavior may be especially dangerous for older motorists. A 2014 study from the University of Florida took a look at how just one drink affects drivers in two age groups: 25- to 35-year-olds and 55- to 70-year-olds. Their findings illustrate how important it is for people to know how alcohol might impair them, especially before getting behind the wheel.
Researchers gave study participants one drink that would produce a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.04 and 0.065 percent, which is well within the legal limit of 0.08 percent. The participants were then asked to simulate driving in a controlled environment. The study found that older drivers had more difficulty staying in their lane and maintaining a constant speed. What’s more, it seemed that the older drivers were experiencing greater impairment and poorer precision when compared to those in the younger age group.
Why It Happens
There have been numerous studies that demonstrate how alcohol can affect people more and more as they age. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services points out that several key phenomenon occur during the aging process that will change the way the body processes alcohol. For example, the metabolism process slows, which leads to alcohol staying in the body longer. Further, there is less water in the body as someone ages, which can increase the blood alcohol concentration.
Other factors that may increase an elderly person’s sensitivity to alcohol include the following:
- Many elderly individuals take medications that do not mix well with alcoholic beverages.
- Health conditions that are present in older people, such as diabetes or liver problems, may become exacerbated with the consumption of alcohol.
- People’s tolerance for alcohol simply wanes as they age.
It is important for people of all ages to take into account how alcohol will affect them, and the elderly may want to pay special attention to these factors.
Using the Information
The University of Florida researchers noted that impairment can start at the very first drink. In addition to the factors that may specifically affect an older person, people should consider other factors, such as what they had to eat that day or how they typically respond to alcohol. Taking the right steps can help to prevent a serious incident, especially for those who are driving.
At Nosal & Jeter, LLP our goal is to protect our clients from the consequences associated with drunk driving and other traffic offenses. If you or someone you know has been charged with DUI, we can help them navigate the legal process.