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The Dangers of Driving with a Hangover


The morning after a night of heavy drinking can be challenging, especially for those who need to drive to work, school, or other important engagements. Many people assume that once they wake up and feel relatively fine, they are fit to drive. However, the truth is that even a mild hangover can significantly impair a person’s driving abilities.

Driving with a hangover can put the motorist and other road users at risk of a serious accident. If you are drinking alcohol the night before, it is best to wait until you have fully recovered before getting behind the wheel.

How a Hangover Can Affect Your Driving Abilities 

Even a small amount of alcohol consumption can impair a person’s ability to function to some extent. The morning after drinking, a person may still have alcohol in their system, which can adversely affect their driving abilities.

Hangovers can also cause various symptoms that can hinder the necessary abilities for safe driving, such as the following:

  • Fatigue: Those who have been drinking and are hungover are often very tired. Driving while exhausted can be extremely dangerous and may pose the same risks as driving while mildly intoxicated. 
  • Light Sensitivity: Many people experience sensitivity to light when they are hungover, which can make it unbearable to drive in the sun. They can also experience visual difficulties when encountering vehicle headlights, streetlights, and other light sources.
  • Motion Sickness: Nausea and vomiting are common after heavy drinking, which can lead to motion sickness. Simple turns, starting and stopping, and backing up can exacerbate these symptoms, which can make it difficult to concentrate on the road.
  • Headaches: It’s common for hangovers to include a headache. When the alcohol wears off, the pain receptors in the head are activated, making it difficult to perform any task with a headache—including driving.

Driving with a Hangover Can Be Dangerous

Multiple studies have demonstrated the effects of driving while hungover. In England, researchers supplied drivers with ample alcohol. The next day, every driver took a 20-minute test on a closed course. The study found that the drivers exhibited an increase in shifting driving positions, slowed reaction times, speed variations, and driving errors.

Similarly, in the Netherlands, volunteers were asked to consume at least 10 drinks the night before their test and were then subjected to a one-hour simulated driving routine. The researchers found similar results to the English study. Both studies ensured that drivers had a 0% blood alcohol level before conducting the tests, which means that they did not have any alcohol in their systems.

What to Do If You Were Involved in an Oregon Car Accident

When you are hungover, several factors can impair your ability to drive safely. Slower reaction times mean that you may not be able to respond to unexpected dangers on the road, which can lead to an accident. Fatigue can contribute to serious driving errors that could have unexpected consequences. To stay safe on the road, it is best to avoid driving the day after drinking and wait until your body has fully recovered.

If you are involved in a car accident, you may have the right to pursue financial compensation, as long as you were not at fault for the collision. In these situations, it is important to consult with a Portland car accident lawyer to discuss your next steps. After your collision, contact an attorney as soon as possible to learn about your legal options.