Visible Intoxication is Different From Obvious Intoxication

Impaired driving is one of the most well known deadly consequences of alcohol intoxication. As well as people understand the side effects of intoxication, it can still be difficult for trained observers to fully identify intoxication.

A recent review that examines the definition of intoxication and the methods that are designed to prevent impaired driving. One key point of this review is that obvious intoxication, as defined in many court rooms, is not the same as visible intoxication.

“It is important to understand and recognize intoxication because of the risk for injury that results from it,” said John Brick, lead author and executive director of Intoxikon International.

“Understanding and recognizing an intoxicated person can help us make decisions about allowing a person to drive, accepting a ride from someone, or cutting off a drinker.”

Most people provide reliable signs of intoxication when they are under the influence and casual observation when blood alcohol concentration is at 150 mg/dl or more. When the alcohol content is less than this amount, visible intoxication signs are not always present and it is more difficult to identify impairment.

“This presents a particular challenge to preventionists,” said Brick. “For example, how do you intervene or make an informed decision about driving with someone if they do not appear visibly intoxicated? People who are too impaired to drive are not typically staggering, slurring their speech, or presenting gross signs of intoxication.”

Counting drinks has been a suggested method for determining intoxication. In fact, Brick noted that in situations where exceptionally tolerant individuals fail to show signs of visible intoxication, the only way to determine if they are in fact intoxicated might be to count drinks.

This method is not always reliable and if there is ever any doubt as to whether or not a person is too intoxicated to drive, err on the side of safety. A designated driver is always a good idea and public transportation even better for even the designated driver can get pulled into the fun.

Source: Science Daily, Intoxication May Not Always Be Visible, May 24, 2009


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