A few years ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came out with caffeinated alcoholic drinks like Four Loko and Sparks. Those drinks were quickly taken off the shelf and either reformulated or never to return. Now, a new study reports that even consuming nonalcoholic energy drinks may make it more likely for individuals to drive drunk.
In the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers published their findings on the link between energy drink consumption and drunk driving. They evaluated drivers who consumed energy drinks both with and without alcohol and compared it to drunk driving propensity. They surveyed college students on their frequency of drunk driving and their energy drink consumption, alcohol consumption, and caffeine consumption.
According to their results, 57% of those surveyed consumed at least one energy drinks. Among those energy drinking students, 71% consumed energy drinks with alcohol. The study found a direct link between energy drink consumption with alcohol and drunk driving frequency. However, the study also found a link between energy drink (without alcohol) consumption frequency and drunk driving frequency.
One of the problems with young people consuming highly caffeinated beverages while drinking is that they may be unable to sense how intoxicated they really are. This could lead to increased risky behavior like drunk driving, as well as lead them to drink more alcohol than they would otherwise without the caffeine bump.
The authors of the study were not clear on what caused the relationship between non-alcoholic energy drink consumption and drunk driving. One possible reason is that energy drink consumption prior to alcohol consumption allows drinkers to stay so-called “wide-awake drunk,” even if the caffeine is not consumed in conjunction with the alcohol. Similarly, drinking energy drinks after consuming alcohol is sometimes associated with nursing a hangover, and may indicate substance abuse problems.
Researchers speculate that the type of people who drink energy drinks may also be the same types of people who engage in risky behavior like drunk driving. The study cited marketing campaigns that emphasize exciting and active lifestyles with a carefree attitude of living in the moment. This may generally appeal to those who engage in risky activities or underestimate the dangers of drunk driving.
The researchers want to continue follow-up study of the phenomenon. They followed the 1,000 students for six years, taking into account family alcohol abuse, and depression. In the end, almost all the participants reported drinking alcohol at least once in the previous year. They also found that a quarter of all participants reported drunk driving at least once in the prior year.
At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending individuals charged with DUI offenses in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands how a drunk driving conviction can affect your future. If you are facing a DUI, contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.