As people are living longer and remaining active and independent for many of those years, there are more drivers on the road who are in their senior years. That can be a very positive thing.
However, some troubling trends have emerged over the past couple of decades. More seniors are engaging in high-risk drinking behavior like binge drinking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further, the number of seniors with alcohol use disorders like alcoholism has increased.
There’s no one reason for these trends. Researchers have postulated that everything from economic struggles to anxiety to the general pervasiveness of alcohol in our society plays a role.
Why alcohol can affect seniors more than younger people
However, when older people mix drinking – even a moderate amount – and driving, the results can be devastating. As one doctor notes, “Older people have less muscle mass, and the liver metabolizes alcohol more slowly. Aging brains grow more sensitive to its sedative properties, too.” He adds, “With each drink, an older person’s blood alcohol levels will rise higher than a younger drinker’s.” One study found that just one drink could impair a senior’s ability to drive.
If you combine these factors with the general slowing of reflexes we all experience when we age and the likelihood that an older person is also taking one or more medications that shouldn’t be combined with alcohol, you’ve got a recipe for dangerously impaired driving. If a police officer sees you driving erratically and pulls you over, you could find yourself testing over the legal limit.
It’s important to realize that you don’t even have to be over the legal limit of .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be arrested and charged with DWI. If you’re facing DWI charges, you need to take them seriously. With legal guidance, you can protect your rights and work to mitigate the consequences on your life.