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Remember: Driving hungover is not driving sober

As we've discussed before on this blog, DUI has no arbitrary time limit. If you were extremely intoxicated the night before, you could still have enough alcohol in your system for a DUI the day after. Moreover, the only thing that effectively reduces blood alcohol content is time.

What about driving with just a hangover, though? You're not drunk, so there is no chance you could be charged with DUI, right?

Wrong. You can be charged with DUI if a police officer determines you were driving under the influence of alcohol. A clean breath or blood test would be strong evidence in your favor, but a DUI case can be based on the officer's observations alone.

Hung-over driving can be dangerous

"Driving hungover can be just as dangerous as driving after having a few drinks," says a spokesperson for AAA East Central.

If you have a tough hangover, you're probably nearly free of alcohol, according to the Mayo Clinic. That's because hangover symptoms are caused by your blood alcohol content dropping significantly or reaching zero. That does not mean you're safe to drive, however.

The Mayo Clinic points to dangerous hangover symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue and weakness, often caused by inadequate of low-quality sleep
  • Nausea, stomach pain and vomiting
  • Dizziness or a feeling that the room is spinning
  • Shakiness, headaches and muscle aches
  • Sensitivity to sound and light
  • Reduced ability to concentrate

In the right situation, any of these symptoms could seriously impair your ability to drive safely.

"We wouldn't advise that anybody drives with any of these symptoms, regardless of whether they are recovering from a night of drinking or not," says AAA.

Prevent a DUI arrest by planning ahead

Since alcohol negatively affects your judgment, it may be necessary to have plans in mind before you begin drinking. In fact, have a Plan A and a Plan B in case your original plan doesn't work out for some reason. Party hosts can help by taking keys from drinkers, providing non-alcoholic beverages to designated drivers and offering overnight accommodations to guests who have been drinking, if possible.

Drivers can consider a range of plans to avoid driving drunk:

  • Designating a sober driver
  • Using local transit
  • Calling a cab or using a ride hailing app
  • Stay overnight where you are or in a nearby hotel or motel
  • Ask for help from a bartender or sober person

If you do end up arrested for DUI, you should know that you can fight the charge. Contact an experienced defense attorney to discuss your case.

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