Although sleeping it off may reduce the risk of a California DUI, the hungover driver still poses a threat to the roads.
According to Associate Professor Chris Alford of the University of West England, driving while hungover is as dangerous as driving drunk.
Participants in his study consumed alcohol then, on the following day, performed simulated driving tests. Although legally sober, the hungover participants were more likely to speed and were prone to erratic driving. It was also determined that the hungover participants, like drunk drivers, had slower reaction times.
“Things like their speed of reaction was slowed down, their variability in the way they drive was more erratic when they had a hangover. We also found that they’re making errors things like crossing the central lines, the lane markings in the road,” said Alford.
“So you could say their driving was as if they were over the legal limit of alcohol but of course they didn’t have that alcohol on board anymore.”
A separate Dutch study found similar results.
Participants were given ten drinks and, the following day, researchers tested their driving abilities. Although blood alcohol concentration levels returned to zero, hangovers significantly affected the driving skills of participants.
“Driving was much worse when they had a hangover when we compared it to our results from previous studies [of drunk drivers],” said Dr. Joris Verster from Utrecht University. “The magnitude of driving impairment is higher than that observed with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 per cent, which is the legal limit for driving in many countries.”