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Study focuses on older motorists and impaired driving

Sometimes it might feel to persons in age-group demographics at both ends of the spectrum -- young persons and seniors, respectively -- that they just can’t catch a break in driving-focused studies.

The nation’s youngest motorists, of course, are widely perceived -- whether accurately or not -- as being comparative scourges on the nation’s roadways, with studies across a wide spectrum positing problematic driving behaviors for that age group.

Some of those criticisms and alleged “truths” have a basis in fact, some are overly generalized and some apply only to select members of the demographic.

The same is true of “seniors,” which is itself an open-ended and, ultimately, not particularly useful term. Some studies denote seniors as having comparatively slow reaction times on the road. Some state that many older drivers are too hesitant, too cautious and more likely to suffer personal injuries in even minor accidents.

Again, that same mix of fact, fiction, semi-truth and generality applies to “older” drivers.

A new study appearing recently in the journal Psychopharmacology will likely result in even further discussion regarding older motorists (those aged between 55 and 70 in the study).

The central takeaway from the study is this: A single drink can impair the driving ability of older drivers, even when it does not result in a blood alcohol level of .08 (the legal threshold for drunk driving). Researchers did not note the same result for motorists between the ages of 25 to 36 who were also tested.

The study is obviously interesting. It is also notable that drivers in North Carolina and nationally -- many of them older and comparatively seasoned motorists -- are stopped every day on suspicion of drunk driving, even in instances where they have had only a single drink and sometimes even less.

In many cases, those drivers are not inebriated or impaired to any degree, and a DWI/DUI charge imposed on them is flatly unfair.

In such a case, securing prompt and experienced input from an experienced drunk driving defense attorney can sometimes make a material difference in the outcome of a DWI arrest or criminal charge.

Source: HealthDay, "Older drivers may be vulnerable to just one drink," Mary Brophy Marcus, March 20, 2014

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