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Aging and Driving Under the Influence

DUI Lawyer Long Isl

How Getting Older Affects Your Driving

Most people intuitively understand that age and health can play a role in one’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. What many may not realize is the unique ways that age can play a role in a DUI case. We do not typically think of seniors as being a high risk factor for drinking and driving, and in general they are not. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that only about 6% of drivers over 75 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes actually had a BAC level above the legal limit (0.08%). Compare this to younger drivers between 21 and 24 years of age who died in crashes; an incredible 28% of them had BAC levels above 0.08%.

Nevertheless, age-related metabolic changes can make seniors more susceptible to DUI. As the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explain, there are a number of physiological factors that can make seniors more likely to reach a high BAC sooner and with less alcohol than when they were younger. While the research is limited, here is what we know.

Metabolic Changes

With age, our bodies retain less water, and for this reason, there is less overall body mass water to dilute alcohol. This can result in feeling intoxicated sooner than when we were younger. It can also result in reaching 0.08% BAC faster than when we were young.


With age, we also lose our “tolerance.” This is not necessarily a scientific term, but as NIH explains, elderly individuals who drink alcohol are more likely to experience loss of balance, lack of coordination, and similar effects faster than in their youth.

Effects of Alcohol on the Body and Brain

The NIH’s position on alcohol and aging is that chronic alcoholism can actually lead to rapid deterioration of a person’s cognitive abilities and can accelerate a person’s normal aging process. In sum, the brain can undergo premature aging and deterioration. MRI results showed that elderly individuals with a history of alcohol abuse actually experienced more brain tissue loss than those without a history of alcoholism. The area of the brain most affected by tissue loss was the cerebellum, which controls posture and balance.

Seniors Killed in Alcohol Related Crashes

Every year, thousands of seniors are killed in highway crashes. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute reports that in 2015, adults over the age of 65 represented only 8% of all drivers arrested for DUI with a BAC over 0.08%.  Nevertheless, they represented 18% of all Americans killed in fatal crashes nationwide.

Seniors and New York DWI Charges in Long Island

If you are an older adult and you have been charged with DWI, you can not afford to plead guilty. Independence and livelihood depend on the freedom and autonomy to get around. It can also be very difficult to get your license back later in life, especially with a DWI or DWAI conviction on your record. Call the attorneys at 888-DUI-Lawyer today for a free confidential consultation. We will carefully review the facts of your case and give you real options.

(c) Can Stock Photo / photobac



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