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Older drivers may be impaired by one drink

When thinking about drunk driving, common logic suggests that a lighter person may become intoxicated sooner than a heavier person, based on how quickly alcohol could be metabolized in a person’s body. This reasoning was suspected to apply no matter how old the person was or whether they had developed a “tolerance” for alcohol.

However, research about alcohol consumption is evolving, and it is suggested that older people may not apply to this notion. In essence, the older a person is, they may be impaired after just one drink. A study conducted last year by researchers at the University of Florida found that young drinkers (i.e. those between age 25 and 36) were not impaired by one drink, but those who were above the age of 55 were affected to where their judgment was compromised by the same number of drinks (1), even though their blood alcohol levels may not risen above .08.

The important issue here is that for older drivers, the telltale clues of impairment (i.e. ability to hold position in a particular lane, and reaction time) could start with just one drink. Police officers are trained to look for these clues, so the risk of being stopped, even if you are not officially impaired, still exists.

Additionally, an officer’s observations, coupled with potentially inaccurate hand-held breathalyzer readings could lead to a drunk driving charge that really isn’t. If you have been charged with a DUI, it is important that you discuss your situation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. 

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