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Study: older drivers more affected by alcohol

They say that a fine wine gets better as it ages. The same is apparently not true of older drivers who drink fine wine.

Though there has been little mention of it in Denver media, a new study shows that older drivers are more affected by alcohol consumption than younger drivers. The study suggests that even when blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the DUI threshold, older drivers might feel the effects of alcohol.

The study was by a University of Florida professor of psychiatry and psychology. Participants were in one of two age groups: 25 to 35 years old or 55 to 70 years old.

Participants were all in the same height and weight ranges; the main difference between the two groups was age.

When researchers gave participants an amount of alcohol that got BAC to 0.065 percent, older drivers "seemed to exhibit jerkier steering and more variability in their speed," a research assistant said.

In Colorado, the legal threshold for BAC is 0.08 percent.

The research assistant said both groups were given the same amount of alcohol, but that the effects of the alcohol were more pronounced in older drivers.

There is little doubt that alcohol has different effects on people of different ages, sizes, weights and so on.

A DUI arrest and conviction can have varying degrees of impact on people as well. For younger drivers, a DUI conviction can mean years of difficulties with job or educational opportunities. For older drivers, a conviction can mean career advancement is slowed or stopped. And auto insurance rates are likely to skyrocket no matter what the age of the driver.

All of the above makes it crucial for drivers facing DUI charges to speak with an experienced attorney about available legal options that can lead to reduced or dropped charges or minimized impact on driving privileges.  

Source: Alligator.org, "Older-adult drivers more impaired by alcohol, UF study says," Katherine Arellano, March 12, 2014

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