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Can You Be Charged with OVI for Being Hungover?

Posted On: November 7th, 2020   |   Posted by: Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP
police officer gaining access to car image

Being hungover isn’t a crime, so it can’t be why you’re charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI). However, if, while you’re hungover, there’s still alcohol in your system, then you might be arrested and charged with OVI.

If you need legal guidance after an arrest, contact Luftman, Heck & Associates at (614) 500-3836 or use our online contact form to reach out. We have worked with thousands of people facing OVI charges. Call us today.

What is a Hangover?

A hangover is several symptoms that may develop after you drink. Each person metabolizes alcohol differently, so very little alcohol may give one person a hangover, while for another who drinks heavily it may not be a problem.

Generally, the more alcohol you drink, the bigger the chance you’ll be hungover the next day, and the effects will be worse, according to the Mayo Clinic. Hangover symptoms usually start when your blood alcohol content drops significantly. You may suffer:

  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Head and muscle aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain
  • Poor sleep
  • Increased light and sound sensitivity
  • Dizziness
  • Shakiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression, anxiety, or irritability
  • Rapid heartbeat

Are You Dangerous if You Drive With a Hangover?

Having a hangover can affect your memory, concentration, and dexterity, which can reduce your ability to drive safely. Psychologists at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom found those with hangovers had worse attention, memory, and psychomotor skills (including coordination and speed) even with little to no alcohol in their bloodstreams, reports The Independent.

You may try to wait to drive until you think there’s little or no alcohol in your body. Study results show you could still be mentally impaired even after alcohol has left your bloodstream. The review of 19 studies found:

  • Hangovers impaired psychomotor speed, short and long-term memory, and sustained attention
  • They were the result of a decline in concentration and focus, decreased memory, and reduced reaction times after a night of heavy drinking
  • Hangovers can have severe consequences for performing everyday activities like driving

Research published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found that the driving of those with hangovers was generally just as impaired as intoxicated drivers, even if they had no alcohol in their systems. The study involved 26 hungover people with residual levels of alcohol and 26 people with hangovers without any alcohol in their system. They used a driving simulator on a computer-generated 20-minute drive to work.

The driving scenarios included traffic, pedestrians, traffic lights, and other hazards in a mixed rural and urban course. Significant problems were found, including divided attention, vehicle control, and driving violations. The pattern of issues were similar in both groups. Participants were consistently impaired, no matter how much or little alcohol was in their bodies.

Charges You Could Face for Driving While Hungover

If hungover drivers are as impaired as intoxicated ones, your chances of being charged increase because you’re more likely to get into an accident or make mistakes that will be noticed by law enforcement. If an officer develops a reasonable suspicion you violated the law, they can pull you over. If, after talking to and witnessing your actions develops probable cause, you could be arrested for OVI.

There are different parts of the OVI law. A “general offense” just requires the officer to have evidence you’re driving while impaired. Another section, which is a higher-level offense, requires a specific blood alcohol level found by a breathalyzer or blood test. If you submitted to such a test, but the amount of alcohol in your system didn’t reach that amount, you may be charged with the “general offense.”

If you started driving the prior evening while intoxicated and pulled over to “sleep it off,” that was a good idea. But if you wake up to an officer knocking on your window, even though you’re not driving but are still intoxicated, you could be charged with having physical control of a vehicle while under the influence. If your hangover severely impairs your driving, even though you have no drugs or alcohol in your system, you could be charged with operation in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.

How Luftman, Heck & Associates Can Help You

All criminal charges could have a serious, negative impact on you, your job, and your family. OVI charges can be severe problems if you’re in a highly public position or drive for a living. The attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates understand what a problem an OVI conviction can be for your record and future job opportunities. But our knowledge of Ohio OVI laws has helped countless clients get their charges dismissed, reduced, or handled in way that allows them to move past it quickly.

Call LHA today at (614) 500-3836 to learn more about how we can help in a free consultation.



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