Driving While Hungover: Why it Is Dangerous and What Crash Victims Should Do

We all know it is dangerous and illegal to get behind the wheel while drunk, but many people see no problem driving when they have a hangover. Technically, driving with a hangover is not illegal, but it is still risky, as a hangover can affect your reaction time and ability to concentrate on the road.

TSR Injury Law explains the dangers of driving hungover and what to do if you get into a crash caused by a hungover driver.

If you were injured in a crash caused by a drunk or hungover driver, our Minneapolis car accident lawyers may be able to help you seek compensation for your damages. Call us to schedule a free consultation.

TSR Injury Law. Experienced lawyers representing the injured at no upfront cost. (612) TSR-TIME

Defining a Hangover

A hangover is an umbrella term that refers to the various reactions your body may have to drinking alcohol. Many people think a hangover starts the morning after consuming alcohol, but symptoms can start just hours after you stop drinking.

It does not take much alcohol for some people to experience a hangover – some people develop a hangover after just one or two drinks.

Everyone responds to alcohol differently based on various factors like weight, height and the type of alcohol consumed. For example, women might remain hungover longer than men because men often have more water in their bloodstreams, which allows the body to process alcohol faster.

Dangers of Driving While Experiencing a Hangover

A hangover can be a miserable experience, regardless of your tolerance for alcohol. These are some of the symptoms you may experience during a hangover:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness or vertigo, particularly when you stand up
  • Severe headaches, nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Losing concentration or focus on the task at hand
  • Minor or severe stomach pain
  • Feeling shaky
  • Unusually slow reaction time
  • Frequent yawning
  • Severe dehydration
  • Increased irritability, even if you are not normally an irritable person
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Aching muscles

These symptoms could last anywhere from a few hours to more than a full day. You may think things will get better as your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) approaches and finally reaches zero. However, peak hangover symptoms often hit when your BAC is at zero, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Hangover symptoms can make it much harder to stay focused on driving and reacting to hazardous situations, such as wet roads, children playing near the street or debris in the road.

Hungover drivers may be more likely to engage in various forms of negligent/reckless driving, such as:

  • Drifting out of their lane, which could be caused by blurry vision or shakiness
  • Tailgating other cars because of their slower reaction time
  • Speeding because it takes them longer to realize how fast they are going
  • Running through stop signs, such as in a residential area close to home
  • Pulling out into an intersection to make a turn when there is not enough time to safely avoid oncoming traffic
  • Brake-checking another car because they are more irritable
  • Not looking for pedestrians or bicyclists at intersections and crosswalks

Your body needs time to rest and recover from the effects of alcohol, so you may want to avoid driving the day after drinking, especially if you consumed a lot of alcohol.

Can a Hungover Driver Be Charged With Drunk Driving?

State laws do not mention hungover drivers. Minnesota, like other states, sets a BAC limit of 0.08. If a driver gets pulled over or causes a crash and is found to have a BAC above the limit, he or she could be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). However, even if a driver’s BAC is below the legal limit, police could still arrest them for DWI if they deem the driver to still be under the influence of alcohol.

It is highly unlikely that a hungover driver would be charged for impaired driving. However, if he or she causes a collision, the police might cite this person for another traffic violation. The police officer might note that a hangover may have played a role in the crash. Your lawyer can bring this up in a claim for compensation, as this might explain the driver’s negligent actions before the crash.

What Should Victims Do After a Crash With a Hungover Driver?

If you think the other driver may be hungover, tell the police officer who comes to the scene. He or she can note this in the police report.

For example, is the other driver yawning a lot? Does he or she seem highly irritable? Is he or she complaining about a headache? Did he or she make an offhand remark about a late night?

Sometimes the signs of a hangover are like the signs of drowsy driving. Evidence of a drowsy or hungover driver may help your lawyer validate your claim. For instance, the at-fault driver may have posted pictures on social media that could support the conclusion the driver was out late or consuming alcohol the night before.

Injured by a Drunk or Hungover Driver? TSR Injury Law May Be Able to Help

Our lawyers at TSR Injury Law have recovered more than $1 billion for injury victims and their families throughout Minnesota. We know the dangers of drunk driving and are committed to helping victims secure the compensation they need.

We charge no fees unless we win your case, and your initial legal consultation is free.

Call us today at (612) TSR-TIME.

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