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Study suggests older drivers have lower alcohol tolerance

For decades, critics of drunk driving laws have challenged the reliability of set BAC levels. The legal BAC limit in Tennessee is 0.08. That goes for any suspect, whether male or female, young or old.

A recent study related to drunk driving suggests how a universal BAC limit might not fit all DUI situations. Age alone, according to the university study, can be enough to impair one person much less or much more than another.

Researchers ran tests on different drivers from different age groups. They put the subjects in driving simulators on two separate occasions. On one of those occasions, some of the drivers had consumed some alcohol. The researchers compared the driving abilities of the subjects based on age and BAC levels.

Simply put, the drivers who were above the age of 55 showed greater levels of impairment in their driving than younger drivers who shared the same BAC level. For example, a 25-year-old driver with a 0.06 BAC level would show more control while driving than a 60-year-old with a 0.06 level.

If the study truly does reveal an impairment difference between younger and older drivers, so what? Does that mean drunk driving laws should differ from Tennessee DUI suspect to DUI suspect? This study alone wouldn't move legislators to change a set 0.08 limit, but hopefully it at least opens up a dialogue about ways to more effectively judge whose too impaired to drive and who is needlessly charged with driving under the influence.

Someone who is arrested for DUI in Tennessee today will be prosecuted and judged based on the same strict limits that have been applied to suspects of all backgrounds. That means that every drunk driving defendant needs the help of an aggressive criminal defense lawyer.

Source: HealthDay, "Older Drivers May Be Vulnerable to Just One Drink," Mary Brophy Marcus, March 20, 2014

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