Hungover Driving: Worse Than Drunk Driving?

After a night of drinking at the bar with friends, you use the Uber or Lyft app on your phone, get a sober ride, and arrive home safely — good for you! If you’re going to drink, staying off the roads is always a great choice.

But what about the next morning?

By morning, most of the alcohol will be out of your system. But unfortunately, you might have those pesky hangover symptoms, like nausea, tremors, or a splitting headache. Still, you feel confident about getting behind the wheel to drive to work or run some errands. You’re hungover, but it’s not like you’re drunk, right?

Actually, hungover driving might be just as bad as drunk driving. A study out of Utrecht University in the Netherlands shows that even when someone’s blood alcohol level (BAC) is at zero, they still exhibit the same reckless and distracted behavior as drunk drivers, including weaving between lanes and failing to stop in time.

The Study

To conduct the study, researchers asked participants to engage in a night of heavy drinking. In the morning, the participants, who by now had a BAC of zero, performed a driving stimulation task. They were asked to drive in one lane while obeying the speed limit. This should have been an incredibly simple task. However, many of the participants could not successfully complete the stimulated test. The researchers report that their driving was “significantly poorer and less safe, considerate, predictable, and responsible.” When the same group performed the test, this time after a night of not drinking at all, their results were considerably better.

Along with symptoms like nausea, dehydration, shakiness, and light sensitivity, hangovers also lead to a decreased ability to concentrate. With a pounding headache or upset stomach, it’s hard to focus on anything. This is likely the main reason why hungover drivers perform so poorly.

Additionally, after a night of heavy drinking, a restful night of sleep is often hard to obtain. As studies on drowsy driving have shown, a good night’s sleep is incredibly important to driving, as tired drivers have difficulty concentrating and reacting. If a hangover prevents someone from getting rest, it may also greatly affect their driving abilities.


Even with a BAC of zero, you might not be ready to drive. Avoiding heavy and excessive drinking is the best solution! If you plan to drink, eating a healthy and filling meal cuts down on hangover symptoms, as does alternating water with alcohol beverages throughout the night. If you feel sick, distracted, or just downright terrible after a night of drinking, consider finding a safe ride, just like you did the night before.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.


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