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How Alcohol Affects Reaction Time and Accuracy

Alcohol is known as a depressant that can have a negative effect on a person’s coordination, speech,
and vision when he or she is intoxicated. Most people understand that when they are drunk well beyond
the legal limit, they should not drive. Obviously a person who is struggling to walk or stand cannot
possibly be fit to drive. What many people don’t realize, however, is that even small quantities of
alcohol can affect a person’s reaction time and accuracy, putting them at a higher risk of an accident
if they choose to drive.

A study published in 2004 looked at the effects of alcohol on both reaction time and motor skills. Most
people know that consumption of alcohol increasingly hinders motor skills, but few studies have focused
on its effect on reaction time and accuracy when compared to motor skills. The researchers found that
reaction time, accuracy, and motor skills worsen as an individual’s BAC level rises.

Reaction and Motor Skills

When a person is sobering up, he or she begins to regain control of motor skills, but reaction accuracy
remains poor long after a person’s motor skills recover. This study reveals that even when a person
may feel sober enough to drive because their motor skills are no longer hindered, they may still have
a low reaction accuracy that could cause an accident.

Reaction accuracy is just as important as reaction time and motor skills when it comes to driving safely.
One researcher gave an example of an accident scenario that could occur when a person thinks that he
is sober but still has low accuracy. Suppose the car in front of a slightly intoxicated driver suddenly
brakes. The driver may react in time and press his foot to brake, but because his accuracy is still
hindered he may accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake, ramming into the car in front
of him.

These types of accidents may occur even when the driver feels sober and is below the legal BAC limit.
Even if you are under .08 BAC when you have an accident, you may still be arrested for a DUI if the
police officer determines that you are even slightly intoxicated.

Researchers are still discovering the full range of effects that alcohol has on the body. Until more
information is known, it is best to not drive even if you have had just a couple of drinks. If you have
already been arrested for a DUI, consider contacting a DUI defense attorney immediately.

Contact Us

For sound legal advice on preparing your defense against DUI charges, please contact aggressive, experienced
Rhode Island DUI lawyer Matthew Marin today at 401-287-4384.