By April Sears

Driving is an activity that requires a particular degree of focus and training in order to do it properly. Sometimes, it can become an instinct of sorts and as such you may know what to do at any particular time. This might make the notion of multitasking something that is tempting. Unfortunately, things such as texting or putting on makeup can potentially be risky when you do it while driving, and all the more if you drive while drunk. However, understanding the full implications of these are best understood if you get a basic idea on what happens in your brain when alcohol is involved while driving.


Do understand however that the facts below aren’t necessarily for everyone, as people have varying degrees of alcohol tolerance that should be taken into consideration, as well as other conditions that alcohol can affect. As such, it’s best to consult a doctor or a medical professional about the specifics of alcohol consumption before or while driving.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, or the NCADD, said that it’s important to understand just what happens to the body when alcohol is consumed in order to understand its effects on your functions in day to day living. However, it’s also important to consider the dangers of alcohol when involving tasks that can potentially be harmful to others, such as drunk driving.

  • It’s relevant to take note that drinking alcohol in itself isn’t bad. It’s only when alcohol is consumed too much that it’s become a dependence that can make it become qualified as an “addiction.” However to casually drink alcohol to get the occasional relaxing vibe isn’t entirely bad.
  • Unfortunately, it’s when alcohol affects the body and mind that’s supposed to retain focus while driving that’s the problem. This is because drivers have a responsibility not just to their cars but to other drivers and pedestrians as well, the way pedestrians also have their own rules to follow.


Alcohol: The Basics

Alcohol is something that’s called a depressant. This means it slows down the central nervous system, which is composed of major organs such as the brain. As the brain is the one controlling our primary functions, alcohol dampens the brain’s connections in order to “depress” high level activity, which leads to that tipsy yet relaxing feeling. Alcohol in the brain can affect things like:

reaction times and vigilance, and concentration also tends to be decreased. This is why drunk people are sometimes barely able to perform tasks that require focus.

  • The feeling of drowsiness and relaxation is very common after consuming alcohol, causing the urge to sleep.
  • Multitasking suffers with alcohol exposure as a dampened nervous system can’t focus on tasks appropriately.
  • However, as alcohol also allows the body to release endorphins or our feel good hormones, alcohol consumption can also lead to overconfidence, which elevates the odds of risk taking.
  • When applied to drunk driving, all these effects on the brain mean that the driver in question isn’t going to being able to focus and multitask on one task, which is not exactly the kind of driver that gives a guarantee of following rules and basics.

Alcohol: The Statistics

According to the US Department of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, research states that there’s evidence that skills related to driving really do tend to be reduced when alcohol is consumed. For instance, vision and tracking can become impaired due to exposure to alcohol.

  • The ability to see objects in fine detail along with the contrasting movements of the eyes and their overall control tends to be impaired. This more or less extends to tracking abilities, which impairs a driver’s ability to maintain their position with respect to the changes in their surroundings.
  • Drivers also have impaired perception and vigilance when consuming alcohol. Their level of watchfulness or alertness with respect to a given task can become decreased, as their ability to process information is also lessened.
  • Perhaps scariest is the reality that motor skills relevant to driving are affected as well. Undivided attention due to alcohol consumption is lessened, as the ability to focus on more tasks are lessened. Not to mention psychomotor skills, or the ability to coordinate physical tasks at the same time.

These factors, combined together, can potentially affect a person’s overall capabilities to drive. Alcohol consumption can be good when done without having to drive, as the latter is extremely risky, and not to mention may impose penalties on you when you are caught. If you are wondering about how alcohol will affect your body in general, it may be best to ask a physician about the full effects of drunk driving on your system. You may also confer with a lawyer such as those here as to just how traffic laws are incorporated into these health effects, including in cases such as driving under influence.


Sometimes, it’s hard to be convinced of things when you don’t necessarily “see” how it can directly affect you, and as such some people find it hard to believe things unless they see them for themselves. In the case of when alcohol is involved while driving, some who have been a bit reckless and “successfully” drove home while intoxicated may tell you that the “threat” isn’t exactly as what people describe. So maybe the above realities on what happens in your brain when you drive while intoxicated can at least help clear your head on the dangers of drunk driving, and perhaps why traffic laws are strict about people who commit these acts.

April Sears

April Sears has been a law writer for more than two decades, and she is currently working on her next piece. She also writes pieces on law topics for the common reader. April is family woman, and she loves spending her free time with her family.

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