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When you go out to a restaurant, bar or anywhere you’ll be drinking, you’re conscientious about always taking an Uber or Lyft rather than your own car. But what about the next morning when you go to work or drive the kids to school?
You’ve sobered up by then. You may not be feeling great, but there’s no risk of getting a DUI, right? There might be.
Why you might still be over the legal limit hours after your last drink
Depending on how late you were drinking and how much you had, you could have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that puts you at .08 or over the next morning. Even if you don’t, you could be feeling enough of the effects of the prior night’s festivities (even if you don’t remember them) that you could get pulled over for reckless or distracted driving.
Alcohol takes time to leave your system. No amount of hot coffee, cold showers or any other tricks you’ve heard about will speed that up. Your BAC decreases by about .02 every hour or two. That means if you were well over the legal limit at 2:00 a.m., you could still be at .08 or above at 7:00 a.m.
Driving hungover can be dangerous as well
Even if you’ve gotten your BAC down to well within the legal limit, the effects of a night of drinking can make it dangerous to drive. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the symptoms of a hangover are actually at their worst as a person’s BAC gets back to almost zero.
These symptoms can include headaches, light and sound sensitivity, vertigo, nausea and fatigue – all of which can make a person dangerous behind the wheel. A safety advisor with AAA says, “Driving hungover can be just as dangerous as driving after having a few drinks.”
If you’re dealing with a DUI charge, don’t assume prosecutors or the judge will dismiss it just because it didn’t occur as you were driving home immediately after drinking. If the traffic stop was legal and you showed signs of being impaired, you could find yourself with a DUI conviction on your record. An experienced attorney can help protect your rights and present your case.