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If you’re over 55 and have 1 drink, you may be impaired

It might not result in you being charged with driving under the influence, but is it worth the risk? Considering how tough penalties can be under New York law for a drunk driving conviction, certainly not.

New research suggests that even if you haven’t reached the legal limit of 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, the older you are, the more likely you are to suffer some level of impairment from alcohol. The authors of the study out of the University of Florida say the results might indicate that the time is right for states to reexamine if BAC levels for drivers shouldn’t be reduced for all drivers.

Readers of this blog may be aware that there has been a push in recent months from some quarters for states to lower the legal limit for blood alcohol to 0.05 percent. There’s no indication from the news item on the study that this was a driver behind the research, but it could have been.

The scientists who conducted the study admit that the sampling for their work was small, but they say their results are intriguing nonetheless.

What they did was assemble a group of 72 healthy people. Half of them were between the ages of 25 and 36. The other half were aged 55 to 70. All were run through a driving simulator sober to set a baseline.

At a later date, the pool of subjects was divided into three smaller groups. One drank a nonalcoholic beverage. Another imbibed one drink that yielded a reading by breath test of 0.04 percent. The last group also drank one drink, but it resulted in a breath test reading of 0.065 percent. Researchers stress that none of the subjects ever blew a 0.08 percent reading.

When the subjects went through the driving simulation again, the younger drivers reportedly did fine, but those in the older category showed less ability to maintain their lane and a consistent speed.

Reaction to the study has varied. The president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving called the findings “very interesting.” The head of a substance abuse facility in Connecticut, though, cautioned that making it easier to jail drunk drivers won’t do anything to address what may be the underlying problem of the disease of addiction.

All those contributing to the report agreed the people should just not drink and drive at all.

What’s your reaction?

Source: Poughkeepsie Journal, “Study: Older drivers may be vulnerable to just one drink,” Mary Brophy Marcus, HealthDay, March 21, 2014