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Driving hungover can be as dangerous as driving impaired

Make arrangements to get home safely this holiday season

For Immediate Release:07-Dec-2017 @ 7:00 AM
MRU #:TR17R050

With holiday celebrations kicking off for the season, the Edmonton Police Service is warning motorists of the dangers of drinking and driving, as well as the dangers of driving impaired while hungover.



“Driving with a hangover can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving,” says Sgt. Robert Davis with the EPS Impaired Driving Unit.  “It’s quite common for us to intercept drivers the morning after who are impaired and fail a roadside screening device.”


Sgt. Davis recalls intercepting a man who claimed to have slept it off but was still driving impaired. 


“I was working at a Checkstop when a car drove over the traffic pylons that were set up.  The driver explained he was celebrating at the bar earlier that day, but took a cab home to sleep it off.  After a snooze, he took a cab back to the bar to pick up his car, and was in the process of driving home.  While the man thought he was OK to drive, he was still impaired and tested over the criminal limit.  He was charged with impaired driving and impaired driving over 80 mg %, received a one-year licence suspension, and sadly ended up losing his job.”



Drivers can still have alcohol in their bloodstream long after last call.  The time for alcohol to be metabolized in the body is approximately two hours per drink, but if you continue to drink, the alcohol stays in your system until it is processed.


Your blood alcohol content takes longer to drop than it does to rise, and you cannot speed it up or sober up faster with coffee, vitamins, exercise, a shower, or sleep.  Vomiting might seem helpful, but it has no impact on the level of alcohol already in your system. 


If you are over the legal limit, it can take over six hours for your body to get rid of the alcohol, but drivers can still show signs of hangover impairment up to 20 hours after alcohol consumption.  Recent studies have also shown that even after blood alcohol levels return to zero the morning after, drivers still showed the same degree of physical driving impairment as intoxicated drivers.


“The only thing that will lower your blood alcohol content and sober you up is time,” says Sgt. Davis.  “If you’re out partying, trying to figure out how much you drank, it’s best to avoid driving altogether.” 



Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) report that in Canada collisions involving alcohol and/or drugs are the leading criminal cause of death, and on average four people are killed in these collisions each day.


Impaired driving has been a factor in 14 per cent of the 28 fatal collisions and 13 per cent of the 56 serious injury collisions in Edmonton this year.  However, those numbers could rise as there are several files still under investigation, and it is believed that impaired driving might play a factor in hit and run files as well.


On average, police arrest three impaired drivers a day in our city.  So far in Edmonton in 2017, there have been 1,168 impaired driving arrests and 899 separate licence suspensions.  Of those numbers, there were 516 impaired arrests and 289 separate license suspensions through the Curb the Danger program where citizens call 911 to report impaired drivers. 


EPS reminds motorists to celebrate safely and responsibly, and not to drink and drive.  Encourage people to drive sober, and if they are drinking, help them make arrangements to get home safely.  If you suspect a driver is impaired, call 911, so that police can intercept them as soon as possible.


Please contact Chad Orydzuk at 780-421-2823 for more information.

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